The public option will be in the proposed legislation that hits the Senate floor when debating begins.
The Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, sided with his party’s liberals on Monday and announced that he would include a government-run insurance plan in health care legislation that the Senate will consider within a few weeks, the New York Times reports.
His proposal, however, came with an escape hatch: A state could refuse to participate in the public insurance plan by adopting a law to opt out.
Even so, the Times says, the announcement was a turning point in the debate over how much of a role government should play in an overhauled health care system, and it set the stage for a test of Democratic party unity.
Getting a public option approved is still going to be an uphill battle.
With Republicans united for now in opposition to any bill including a public option, Reid needs support from all members of his caucus — 58 Democrats and two independents — to take up the legislation.
Aides said Monday that he appeared to be short of that goal, lacking firm commitments from several members of the caucus, the Times said.
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