Key Senator Submits Compromise Health Care Bill, Obama Wants Public Option

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 7, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Key Senator Submits Compromise Health Care Bill, Obama Wants Public Option

by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 7
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — A key senator has submitted a so-called compromise bill he hopes will become the main health care restructuring legislation in the Senate given the intense opposition to the current pro-abortion bill. Meanwhile, President Barack Obama on Monday said he is not backing down on the public option.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus has come up with a plan that he hopes will get a few Republican votes in order to have a chance of passing his committee and the Senate.

His plan requires Americans to obtain health insurance although it would not create the government-run health care system that Obama and most Democrats want. Instead, it would promote nonprofit health-insurance cooperatives to compete with private insurance companies.

The Baucus bill also creates new health-insurance exchanges that would provide the public with information on insurance plans and pricing, so individuals and small businesses can more easily obtain health care.

The sticking point in the health care debate for the pro-life community has been that the government-run plan and the subsidies to purchase health care insurance would be used to pay for abortions.

The pro-life advocates spoke with today about the Baucus bill did not have an analysis yet concerning whether it would include abortion funding. However, the major pro-life groups have all been consistent in that they want specific language prohibiting abortion funding. Without such language, they say the legislation opens the door to government money paying for abortions either in the public or private plans.

Baucus is slated to meet with his group of six bipartisan lawmakers to discuss his bill and, if they don’t agree to it, it would appear it won’t make any progress. But, if he can convince the group to support the plan it could move forward.

However, it may face opposition from pro-abortion Democrats, including Obama, who prefer the government option.

Obama said on Monday that the "public option" of a federally-controlled health care program should be part of U.S. health care reform.

"I continue to believe that a public option within the basket of insurance choices would help improve quality and bring down costs," he told a Cincinnati crowd on Monday.

The question that will determine how the abortion-health care debate plays out is whether Obama merely prefers that in a bill or if he will refuse to sign legislation that does not contain it.

Obama is slated to spell out his desires and direction for Congress in a Wednesday night speech.

While Senate leaders have said they don’t think a bill with the government-option will pass in that chamber, House leaders have said they don’t think a bill without it will move ahead in theirs.

No Republicans are yet on record supporting the public option bills and, especially if abortion funding is included, they may not support the Baucus or other bills either.

Some political observers say they are prepared for the possibility that the Obama administration will craft its own health care bill as an alternative.

Also, Obama aides and Democrats are trying to persuade pro-abortion Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe to support a bill, which would help in overcoming the 60-vote hurdle to stop a filibuster. They are reportedly working with her on an alternative, that some expected in the Baucus bill, of a trigger plan for the public option that would have it go into effect if the health care insurance providers don’t get a certain percentage of Americans covered by a time specific date.

The Senate Finance Committee is the last of five congressional committees needed to approve health care legislation before it can be taken up by both the full Senate and the full House of Representatives.

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