by The Media Consortium, Tue Sep 22, 2009 at 08:20:40 PM EDT
By Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium Blogger
The public option remains in limbo. The Senate Finance Committee is fine-tuning the bill it unveiled last week, which does not include a public option. However, Brian Beutler of TPM reports that Democrats have already submitted three separate amendments that might add a public option.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) submitted what he calls a "level playing field" amendment, which would, incongruously, create a public option that couldn't set its own rates. A second amendment submitted by Schumer and Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) would create a public option much like that outlined the HELP Committee bill. Finally, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) submitted an amendment that would create a robust public option, much like the one originally drafted in the House.
It's pretty clear that no bill containing a public option in its first draft will get 60 votes in the senate. However, as Beutler reports in a second TPM piece, the Democrats are seriously revisiting the prospect of using budget reconciliation to get a health care bill through the senate with a simple majority. However, Beutler explains that Democrats are reluctant to go the reconciliation route because senate rules restrict the kind of bill that can be passed through reconciliation. For example, only provisions that "materially affect" spending can be passed through reconciliation. But what qualifies as a material effect?
Meanwhile, President Obama continues to insist that the public option isn't dead yet, Steve Benen reports in the Washington Monthly.
In other news, women's health remains a hot topic in health care reform. To understand why health care reform is especially critical for women, Public News Service interviewed Dr. Susan Wood, a scientist who famously resigned from the Bush-era Food and Drug Administration over the politicization of the approval of Plan B. Since leaving the government, Wood has returned to academia to study women's health. Some of her key findings include:
About 20 percent of women under the age of 65 have no health care insurance; in some states, women are denied coverage if they have experienced domestic violence; and when women do have coverage, they are charged higher premiums and often see a long list of preexisting conditions that are excluded, with pregnancy sometimes on that list.
If there is a public option, will it cover abortion? Rep. Lois Capps has written an amendment addressing that question. She explains her proposal in her own words at RH Reality Check.
Uncertainty remains high as the senate inches towards a bill.
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