Tales from the Trail

Can Obama keep Democrats in line on healthcare to the end?

So President Barack Obama goes to Capitol Hill over the weekend and late Tuesday Senate Democrats reach a healthcare compromise on a public insurance option (Republicans oppose the legislation so every Democrat vote is needed to move it along). OBAMA/

Lots of day-after grumbling from both sides of the political spectrum: The Chamber of Commerce still opposes it and liberal activist group MoveOn.org said senators had “bargained away the heart of healthcare reform.”

Well, for critics it’s not likely to get any better on the public option front.

If the bill makes it to the final stages before becoming law,  the Senate version would need to be melded with the House version. And a true compromise would require the Senate to take on a stronger public option and the House to weaken its hand.

One lesson from covering Capitol Hill is that nothing is a done deal until the final vote is in.

Senate healthcare bill: Opt-out is in, Snowe is not

The opt-out is in.

USA HEALTHCARE/REIDThe Senate healthcare reform legislation will include a form of public option that would allow states to opt out of participating in a government-run insurance plan if they choose.

And Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says his Democrats will support it.

“While the public option is not a silver bullet, I believe it’s an important way to ensure competition and to level the playing field for patients with the insurance industry,” Reid said.

But by including the opt-out, the Democrats lost the lone Republican senator to vote for healthcare legislation — Senator Olympia Snowe from Maine — who opted out because of the opt-out.

Poll finds a majority for ‘public option’

Americans are still sharply divided over President Barack Obama’s vision of healthcare overhaul, but they’re starting to come around  — again –  on the so-called public option, so says a new Washington Post/ABC News poll published on Monday.


Fifty-seven percent of all Americans now favor a government-run insurance plan that would compete with private insurers while 40 percent are opposed, according to the poll.

That’s up from 52 percent support in mid-August, but still down from 62 percent in June.

Did health insurance industry report backfire?

Support for a “strong public option” appears to be growing in the House of Representatives.

One of the reasons is that a health insurance industry report predicting higher premiums if Congress fails to enact a healthcare overhaul without a strong mandate for individuals to purchase coverage appears to have backfired.

Democratic aides say support for a strong public health plan to compete with insurers is gaining strength in the House which is weighing three versions of the public option. USA/

Boehner: public option stinks

So, does anybody out there in the real world support a government-run “public” health insurance option?

House of Representatives Republican leader John Boehner doesn’t think so.

SPAINHe told reporters on Thursday: “I’m still trying to find the first American to talk to who is in favor of the public option other than a member of Congress or the administration.”

Democrats suggested the Ohio congressman is not getting out enough, but Boehner thought otherwise. “I get to a lot of places,” he said.

Healthcare public option on life support, will it be revived?

The healthcare “public option” was dealt a blow by the Senate Finance Committee yesterday, so now the question is whether it can be resuscitated when the legislation hits the Senate floor.

The Senate Finance Committee was always going to be the hardest sell. OBAMA/

The government insurance option will get another shot when the healthcare overhaul bill goes to the Senate floor, and let’s not forget the House of Representatives which is likely to pass a public option in its version of the legislation.

A Thomson Reuters poll found that 63 percent of Americans surveyed were willing to pay for healthcare reform. But only 35 percent of them said President Barack Obama’s reform agenda and the debate in Congress would lead to better health service.

Live blog of the Obama healthcare speech


President Barack Obama is making a speech to Congress on healthcare at 8 p.m. tonight and we will live blog it here.

Pistol Packin’ Pelosi? finger on healthcare trigger

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has put the insurance industry on notice that if congressional Democrats are forced to compromise on a government-run health insurance plan and accept a “trigger” proposed by Republican Senator Olympia Snowe, get ready for some major fire power.

Snowe has proposed a compromise that would “trigger” the creation of a new public plan should insurance market reforms fail to meet affordability and quality benchmarks.

USA/At a news conference in San Francisco, Pelosi was asked about the “trigger” idea that has gained new strength in recent days as the White House looks for a potential compromise that would help get President Barack Obama’s proposed healthcare overhaul through Congress.

Healthcare watch: Will summer debate yield fall harvest?

The healthcare debate that turned so temperamental during the summer when critics let loose during town hall meetings around the country is about to get a cool splash of reality.

The summer of running around, blowing off steam and releasing hot air is coming to a close. And soon it will be what every student dreads — a time for tests.

The White House has signaled that it is going to go to the drawing table and come up with  specific areas where compromise can be had, and President Barack Obama will lay it all out in a major speech in the next week or two. OBAMA/

The First Draft: storms rolling in

Lots of storms swirling today.

Tropical Storm Claudette hit the Florida coast in the wee hours of the morning, whipping morning television into the obligatory frenzy of reporting from rain-soaked correspondents demonstrating the weather.

The healthcare storm is far from over. OBAMA/

The Obama administration putting out the word that the public option feature of its health plan is not a dealbreaker.  Our expert tells us that public option basically means it would be a government-run plan like Medicare. Too early to tell whether the shift in strategy will help win votes in Congress.

President Barack Obama switches issues today from healthcare to the war in Afghanistan when he speaks to the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Phoenix, the last stop of his long weekend out West.