Politico reports that liberal Senate Dems have been meeting Friday and will be meeting all Saturday with moderates Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, and Mark Pryor of Arkansas in order to persuade them to please, please, please accept some version of a public option in the health bill so as to make the single-payer fanatics who form the Democratic base happy.
The latest offering to be dangled before the moderates: Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell’s amendment, accepted by the Senate Finance Committee in October, that would set up a “quasi” public option: managed-care plans for the near-poor to be run by the states with federal subsidies.
The only problem, as Senate Republicans have ceaselessly pointed out, is that the quasi-public option in Cantwell’s home state of Washington has not exactly been a roaring sucess, as the New York Times reported:
Premium prices have soared since the program was first created in 1993. And yet, a number of insurance carriers have dropped out. Enrollment numbers have also declined.
In recent months, the state has moved to push as many as 40,000 people off of its rolls because of budget cuts. And premiums for some poor people will double in January.
What Nelson, Landrieu, and Pryor will think of Cantwell-style healthcare reform is anyone’s guess. But here’s some good news–sort of–for opponents: A Roll Call story (subscribers only, but linked on Politico) reports this:
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), one of the leading proponents of the public insurance option, warned Friday evening that he is “done” compromising with moderates and will not accept any further changes to the provision.
Let’s hope the moderates stick to their principles, too.