The public option, left for dead by the Max Baucus bill that passed the Finance Committee just weeks ago, has a new lease on life in the Senate. Credit goes to a CBO report underwhelmed by that bill's efforts to encourage competition, and a big power play by the insurance industry that backfired. Democrats are considering a raft of possibilities, from the triggered plan favored by GOP Sen. Olympia Snowe to others that would allow states to opt in, or out. “This issue is alive,” Max Baucus tells the Wall Street Journal.
The CBO concluded that the nonprofit health cooperatives outlined in the Baucus bill were “unlikely to establish a significant market presence.” And a broadside from the insurance industry lamenting probable lost profits appears to have angered instead of cowed Democrats. The public option has also ceded its place as the hot button issue to government mandated coverage and attendant penalties.