Can the public option pass?

The Senate OKs debate on health-care reform, but a government-run insurance option still divides Democrats

Democrats over the weekend gathered the 60 votes they needed to prevent a Republican filibuster and open debate on the Senate's $848 billion health-care reform bill. But several moderate Democrats said they would vote "no" on the final bill if it still contained a government-run insurance plan to compete with private coverage. Is there any way the public option can pass? (Watch our Sunday Political Talk Show video about the Democrats' shot at health care reform)

The public option looks like a deal-breaker: "Right now, there is no public option plan that could garner 60 votes," say Carrie Budoff Brown and Patrick O'Connor in Politico. Moderate Democrats vow to kill the bill if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid tries to keep in government-run insurance option -- even if state are allowed to opt out. And Reid could face an "insurrection from the left" if he caves.

"How health care reform could fall apart"

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Ditching the public option is a mistake: If Harry Reid gets rid of the public option, says Jon Walker in Firedoglake, he'll be "selling out" the "vast majority of Americans," who want a government-run insurance alternative to expensive private coverage. Reid has options -- including a procedural move called reconciliation -- to pass the bill with a simple majority. He better use them.

"It sounds like Reid is planning to sell out the public option"

The bill stinks with or without the public option: Even if senators dump the public option, says Douglas Turner in The Buffalo News, Americans are "justifiably nervous" about the rationing that could result when Washington tinkers with what insurance plans will and won't cover. So Congress should dump this "monstrosity" for "measured reforms" -- such as making insurers cover pre-existing conditions.

"Take time to produce a good health care bill"

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