From the Dow Jones wire service today:

By a 15-8 vote, the [Senate] Finance panel rejected an amendment sponsored by Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., that would create a public health insurance option. Under Rockefeller’s amendment, a government-run plan would inherit Medicare’s network of doctors and hospitals and pay them based on Medicare payment rates for its first two years.

All Republicans on the panel voted against Rockefeller’s amendment, in addition to Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Sens. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., Kent Conrad, D-N.D., Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., and Thomas Carper, D-Del.

Republicans lambasted the amendment as an attempt to expand the federal government’s reach and eliminate private insurers. A public plan would “crowd out” private insurers with artificially low prices, eventually forcing private insurers to absorb unpaid costs within the U.S. health system and charge their policyholders higher premiums.

“I think it is a slow-walk toward government-controlled, single-payer health care,” said Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., will offer another amendment Tuesday that would create a public health insurance option, but which would pay doctors and hospitals at negotiated rates, rather than Medicare rates. Many health-care providers complain that Medicare pays too little for procedures, physician and hospital visits, and equipment.

Schumer’s amendment is also expected to fail, but in prepared remarks, he indicated that he would offer it as an amendment when the full Senate considers health-care legislation.

Now let the fun begin. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said over and over that a healthcare bill without a public option won’t pass the House. That’s the ticket, Nancy!