Congress set to debate health care reform; Senate bill will include public option

The U.S. House and Senate are both scheduled to begin floor debate of health care reform bills the first week of November. In a stunning announcement on Oct. 26, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced that the Senate bill will include a public option but will also include a provision allowing states to opt out. Until recently, it had appeared that the public option was all but dead in the Senate. However, recent polling has indicated broad public support for including a public option in health care reform legislation. Also, a new analysis last week from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) revealed that a public option tied to Medicare reimbursement rates would actually reduce the federal budget deficit by $110 billion over ten years.

According to the Washington Post, Reid has not yet rounded up the 60 votes that will be necessary to take up the bill on the Senate floor and to subsequently cut off an expected filibuster and proceed to a final vote. Reid’s task is made more difficult by Independent Senator Joseph Lieberman’s announcement that he will oppose a final vote on any bill that includes a public option, even if it includes an opt-out provision for states.

Meanwhile, the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits (MCN) has adopted a position statement on health care reform that urges Congress to support comprehensive health care reform legislation that includes:

  • Support for small employers, including nonprofit employers
  • Making health care affordable for low-income Minnesotans
  • Providing adequate federal funding
  • Containing unsustainable cost increases

In this critical juncture in the health care debate, MCN is coordinating a sign-on letter to the Minnesota Congressional delegation in support of these four critical elements. Organizations wishing to sign on should download and return the letter to us by Friday, November 13.

-Steve Francisco

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About Steve Francisco

Steve Francisco is the former federal policy analyst for the Minnesota Budget Project.
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