House Democrats to Keep Public Option in Health Care Bill, Have September Vote
by Steven Ertelt
August 17, 2009
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Responding to President Barack Obama and top Obama officials, House Democrats say they will keep the public option, the government-run health care system that will fund abortions and abortion coverage, in the health care bills. They also don’t expect a vote on the House floor until September.
A House leadership official told Politico that the Obama administration’s concession on the public option is "just for the Senate."
There is no way it passes the House the first time around without a public option," the aide added. "The liberals (around 100+) won’t allow it."
The House and Senate could wind up passing differing bills and the public option could be removed in a conference committee to come up with a final bill that fuses the two pieces of legislation together. The aide suggested House Democrats would likely vote for the bill if the Obama administration persuades them to do so.
"It if comes back from conference committee without public option and there is the right pitch that it is this or nothing, then it may pass the House," the top official said.
A September vote on the pro-abortion health care bills is likely in order to allow some time following the contentious August and town hall forums with millions of Americans objecting to the bills. The delay would also give the House more time to see what the Senate will do.
Over the weekend, Obama, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs all retreated from supporting the controversial idea.
On Saturday, Obama said that "the public option, whether we have it or don’t have it, is not the entirety of healthcare reform."
Then, on a Sunday morning talk show, Sebelius said the public option is "not the essential element" of healthcare overhaul.
The shift against the controversial plan appears to be in line with the realities of not having enough votes in Congress. North Dakota Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad, a top lawmaker on health care on the Senate side, said Sunday that "The fact of the matter is there are not the votes in the United States Senate for the public option."
There never have been. So to continue to chase that rabbit, I think, is just a wasted effort," he added.
Left-wing abortion advocates reacted strongly against the weekend comments.
Howard Dean, the former Democratic party chairman, went so far as to say Democrats should try to tackle health reform another time.
But Obama even chided Democratic supporters for becoming so fixated on this that they forget everything else."
The shift could lead members of the House and Senate to pursue nonprofit cooperatives, owned by consumers, that would compete with private companies. Insurance exchanges are another option, where a marketplace is created where private insurers would compete for consumers’ business.
With either option, pro-life advocates will demand language asking that abortion funding specifically be excluded.
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