With great fanfare, tonight Senate Democrats announced they have reached a “broad agreement” on the health reform bill. According to reports, it includes a new national health-care plan with private insurers, and a chance for older Americans to “buy in” to Medicare. The most significant part of the reports is the public option is Dead. But then there are the other reports that say the public option is not dead.The Senators are not releasing the details of the deal, until they get back the “scoring” report from the Congressional Budget Office, according to Politico:
The broad outlines of the deal had been discussed for days, but Democrats emerged from a closed-door session about 8 p.m. with news of the breakthrough. Some were reluctant to call it a deal until hearing back from the Congressional Budget Office about how much the proposed new provisions would cost.
“This is a consensus that will help insure that the American people win in a couple different ways. One, insurance companies will certainly have more competition. And two, the American people will certainly have more choices,” Reid told reporters in the Capitol, but refused to divulge details of the agreement.
“Not everyone will agree to every piece we sent over there,” Reid said. “But believe me that we’ve got something that’s good…it moves this bill way down the road.”
According to Talking Points Memo, the reports of the death of the Public option are very premature:
The AP and NYT are both reporting that the Public Option is gone. And it may well be. But Sen. Reid just said unequivocally that that’s not true. Said Reid: “”All the things you’ve read in the newspapers…’the public option is gone,’–it’s not true.”
Other news outlets are walking back reports that the public option has been scotched from the Senate health care bill, after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid insisted the popular provision is still alive.
Apparently the confusion isn’t just among the news outlets.
We hear from a Senate Democratic aide that offices are being deluged with calls after the “tentative deal” the health care gang of 10 reached tonight.
The aide tells TPMDC even Reid senior staff are trying to piece it together.
The bottom line is they “swear” the public option is “not dead,” the aide said.
“Few outside ten members themselves have details, including Reid,” the aide said, adding that staffers were kicked out of the negotiating room when they neared a deal.
An aide briefed on the negotiations among the gang of 10 offers up the rundown of the most important aspects of the public option compromise being sent to CBO.
If this trade-off carries the day, the opt out public option is gone.
In its place will be many of the alternatives we’ve been hearing about, including a Medicare expansion and a triggered, federally-based public option.
As has been widely reported, one of the trade-offs will be to extend a version of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan to consumers in the exchanges. Insurance companies will have the option of creating nationally-based non-profit insurance plans that would offered on the exchanges in every state. However if insurance companies don’t step up to the plate to offer such plans, that will trigger a national public option.
Beyond that, the group agreed–contingent upon CBO analysis–to a Medicare buy in.
The full details of the bill will not be out before the CBO report is out. Reid still wants to get this done before Christmas.