Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Public Option defeated in Senate Finance Committee

This is not exactly a shocker, but two public option amendements to the Baucus bill were voted down today in the Senate finance committee. The amendments were offered by Rockefeller (the more expansive one) and Schumer (more pared back one). Sen Finance Committee more conservative than the Senate as a whole. If the House passes some sort of Public Option, then it could make its way back in a conference bill.

Baucus, Carper, Conrad, Lincoln and Nelson (of Florida) joined all Repubs in voting against Rockefeller amendment (15 no, 8 yes). Carper and Nelson voted yes on the Schumer amendement, which lost 13 to 10.

Next big issue is Ron Wyden's free choice amendment that should come up tomorrow....this would allow more americans to purchase private insurance via the exchanges (markets) to be set up if they want to do so.

The Dems are getting their feet in making arguments about giving people choice... Wyden Amendment and public option. A pretty good cultural symbol to invoke. And I think the Repubs overplayed their hand in August....once you have said Obama wants to kill your grandmother and then say 'well, not really, but you know what I mean' people probably stop paying attention to you as much.

The most interesting thing would be if Wyden Amendement passed....would the insurance industry revolt? Because as written, they (insurance industry) getting new customers that they now have little interest and/or ability to sign up (only 14 Million non group policies in US out of 307 Million people). But, if people with employer based can bail from that and go into the exchange and buy their own policy, this could be quite disruptive to employer market. Insurance won't like that. And if they did revolt over Wyden, would it be too late and transparent? Still, they have mighty big guns (and one of them is named Baucus).

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