Pivotal week for health care reform effort

October 25, 2009 8:20:01 PM PDT
Some lawmakers in Washington say they are close to having enough votes in the Senate to pass a bill that will overhaul the nation's health care system. The measure is being crafted carefully over the course of some high-powered private negotiations, involving key Democrats.

After all the talking and screaming, health care reform may reach the tipping point this week.

Senate leader Harry Reid has gone silent, working behind closed doors, believing he will have a filibuster-proof 60 votes in a day or two.

"I think we're very close to getting the 60 votes we need to move forward," said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York.

Reid has resurrected the public option, a government-run health plan to compete with private insurance. And to get 60 votes, he is creating what could be called an "option-option," wherein senators can decide to allow states to opt in or to opt out, or create a trigger so the public plan is only activated if private insurance companies are unable to cut costs.

New polls show a majority of Americans support a public option, and Democrats think they know why.

"It's open enrollment period right now. And so many people are looking, once again, at another year where they're not going to get a raise because all of their raise is going to go to increased health care costs," said Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri.

Not one republican has signed onto the Reid plan, and they think Democrats are nervous.

"Congress is acting like a teenager with their parents' credit card, not worried about who's going to have to pay the bill," Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

But it's Republicans who may be nervous because they won't be able to stop the effort, if Reid's "option-option gets 60 votes.

Senate Democrats emphasize that no final decisions have been made on the details of the measure, which is expected to reach the Senate floor in about two weeks.


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