Senate Democrats' Health Care Bill Will Cost $849 Billion

Public Option Still Hot Button Issue in Health Care Debate

Another issue that could threaten Democrats' ability to pass a health care bill through the Senate is public option, a government-run insurance plan that would compete with the private sector.

Sen. Joe Lieberman, the independent Democrat from Connecticut, has threatened to filibuster a health care bill if it includes a public option, and his vote would be crucial to get the bill passed on the Senate floor.

Many Democrats say they want to see a strong public option in the final bill.

"I'm confident there will be a strong public option in the bill," Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said Tuesday on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." "There are probably 55 of 60 Democrats, at least, who will vote on the Senate floor to keep the public option language in."

Former President Bill Clinton, who unsuccessfully sought to overhaul the nation's health care system 15 years ago, visited Democratic lawmakers last week to try and rally them on uniting on their differences and compromising in some areas.

"The worst thing we can do is nothing," Clinton told reporters after the meeting. "On the policy, there is no perfect bill."

Republicans continue to vehemently oppose the legislation devised by Democrats. In a joint letter, a group of Republicans urged Reid, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and President Obama to slow down and incorporate more ideas from the GOP on what health care overhaul should entail.

"A 2,000-page bill written in secret by a handful of politicians and staff is the wrong way," the group wrote in the letter, signed by former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and GOP lawmakers.

"Republicans have offered time and time again to bring constructive ideas to the table, only to be shut out by a cold shoulder and a closed door. We need an honest and open process free of artificial, political deadlines and open to input from everyone. Cooperation, not confrontation, is a better approach."

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