Is the Public Option Good Enough for the President and Congress? Bipartisanship Found

By Gorman Gorman

Dec 7, 2009 3:34pm

ABC News’ Rick Klein reports: Bipartisanship isn't so hard to find in health care, after all.

Republicans — staunch opponents, of course, of the public option — are pressing to force President Obama and members of Congress to get their health care through the new insurance entity that would be designed to compete with private insurers.

"I can also think of no better way to ensure that the public option is responsive to our citizens than by having the politicians in charge of the system enrolled in the same program," said Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla.

Coburn has offered an amendment to the Senate health care bill that would enroll the president and members of Congress in the public option — in the kind of political maneuver that's normally shot down out of hand by the other party.

But a group of liberal Democratic senators are making the politics interesting. They like the public option — so much so that they want senators to be part of it, too.

Senators Russ Feingold, D-Wis., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Chris Dodd, D-Conn., Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., and Al Franken, D-Minn., are asking to be added as co-sponsors on Coburn's amendment.

"A strong public option would lead to good coverage so supporting this amendment is an easy choice," Feingold said in a statement.

Members of Congress and administration officials now get their health care through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. As the bill is currently written, they could not enroll in the public option because they get coverage through their employers.

The amendment's prospects remain uncertain. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, among others, still view this as a political stunt, according to Democratic aides. But Coburn is vowing to press for a vote — and if he gets one, it won't break down neatly on party lines.

You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus