In a move that looked unlikely only a month ago, Senate majority leader Harry Reid included a public option in his 2,074-page plan, despite threats of a filibuster. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D) of Montana has said that 60 votes did not exist in the Senate for a public option.
To woo moderates, the Reid plan includes an opt-out for states. The House bill does not. Moreover, the Senate plan could be further amended on the floor, if needed, to bring wavering centrist Democrats on board.
Several moderate Democrats have already said that the public option in its current form is a nonstarter. Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I) of Connecticut, another vote the majority must count on, says that a public option is unacceptable to him - in any form. Vermont Sen. Bernard Sanders, the other independent who caucuses with Democrats, says that he won't vote for a bill that weakens the public option. Likewise, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and liberals in the House Democratic caucus see a robust public option as an essential element of any healthcare reform. Without it, they say, there will not be enough competition to drive costs down. Members of the House progressive caucus have threatened to vote down any bill that does not include a strong public option.
Raising Taxes/Cutting Costs
Both the House and Senate plans count on billions in savings by cutting waste in Medicare and taxing healthcare providers. But the search for additional revenues is opening Democratic rifts.