Health Care Bill to Include 'Opt Out' Public Option

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Health care legislation headed to the Senate floor soon will include the much-debated public option for insurance, Majority Leader Harry Reid said Monday.

The public option would create a government-run health care plan to compete with private insurance-- a move President Obama has said he favored, although lawmakers have gone back and forth on the issue to get enough votes for passage.

In an effort to appeal to both sides, Reid said states could "opt out" of the public option plan.

Click play for an update on the health care legislation with CBN News Washington Correspondent Jennifer Wishon.

As time runs out to overhaul health care this year, the Senate is scrambling to get a bill to Obama's desk, which means key steps could be taken this week.

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

Attorney David Rivkin told CBN News that forcing people to buy health insurance is unconstitutional. For more on this, click here.

As Reid counts the votes, some Democrats are nervous, and Republicans strongly oppose the idea of a public option. Even Sen. Olympia Snowe, D-Maine, who voted with Democrats in the Finance Committee, has concerns.

"Well, that would be putting a national plan at the forefront of the process, and I would have concerns about that," Snowe said.

Republicans warn the Democratic plan will increase costs for Americans. So far, no GOP senator supports the plan.

"Congress is acting like a teenager with their parents' credit card, not worried about who's going to have to pay the bill," Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said.

But Democrats say the rising cost of health care has convinced more Americans to support the public option. A recent poll shows 57 percent now support the idea.

"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," Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said.

In the House, disagreement remains over how much to pay doctors and hospital, but it looks like the public option will definitely be in. Many Democrats refuse to back down.

"The robust public option is, in my view, a preferred way to go because it saves the most money," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Ca., said last week.

There, too, Republican support is hard to come by.

"What's troubling right now is the insistence that we continue to read about that there be a public option," Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., said

A major concern in both Houses: how much a health care bill us going to cost. President Pbama set the limit at $900 billion over ten years. But if House Democrats get their way, it could be more like a trillion dollars.

Back in the Senate, reid has gone silent on the issue, working behind closed doors. His allies expect him to have a filibuster-proof 60 votes within a few days.

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Heather Sells

Heather Sells

CBN News Reporter

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