The public health insurance plan was brought back from the brink of oblivion thanks to Harry Reid's swift adoption of an "opt-out" plan brought to his attention just three weeks ago. In backroom negotiations with members of the Democratic caucus, the majority leader found that the federal approach bridged the gap between conservative and liberals on the issue, roping in the 60 votes needed to break a Republican filibuster.
A plan allowing states to opt in to a national insurance program was discussed before Reid settled on the opt-out plan, which will be written into the final legislation rather than voted on in the Senate. "If you are at the point of supporting an opt-in then it is not much of a stretch to support an opt-out," an aide to Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer tells the Huffington Post. "But on a practical level it makes a world's worth of difference. It removes the barrier of creating a public option."