The resurrection of the public option is the latest and one of the most surprising turns in the long battle over legislation to overhaul the nation’s health-care system. Under assault for months, and declared on life support repeatedly in recent weeks, the provision for a public insurance option is unexpectedly alive as House and Senate leaders prepare to send their bills to the floor.
That doesn’t mean it’s a done deal. Whether it survives the final battles, and in what form, are still the unanswerable questions. Multiple versions of a public option are on the table. Liberal and moderate Democrats are still at odds and are drawing lines in the sand in hopes of exercising maximum influence on the outcome.
Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) are still scratching for the votes to pass bills with a public option included. But by next week, both hope to have bills ready either for unveiling or to send to the Congressional Budget Office for analysis and scoring.
What encourages some of those who have followed this debate closely from the inside is the degree to which Democrats are in sight of a compromise on the public option and other remaining differences — though many may have to accept some disappointment to get a bill to President Obama’s desk.
The public option, Medicare Part E, lives another day.
And that is a good thing.
The president and congress must remember those who have nothing. They are Americans, who have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Really, they do.