Crunch Time For Health Overhaul Looms In Senate

For Democrats, the easiest part of moving ahead on legislation to overhaul health care may have been squeaking by with the 60 votes required to get a bill on the floor for debate after Thanksgiving.

The government-sponsored insurance alternative known as the public option stands as the biggest sticking point, though it's not the only one. Abortion and whether to mandate employer coverage of workers remain divisive, the Washington Post writes.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wrangled the bare minimum support he needed Saturday. But four of the senators who agreed to go along aren't big fans of the public option.

Nebraska Democrat Sen. Ben Nelson said on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" that he would oppose a public option that would include states unless they opt out. But, he added, "I would look at a public option where states could opt in."

One possible compromise could be a state-based public option triggered if private companies fail to provide adequate coverage after a few years.

Others Senators, including Connecticut independent Sen. Joe Lieberman may be harder sells on any flavor of public option. On NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday, he reinforced, his opposition to a public option. "We have never before said, in a given business, we don't trust the companies in it, so we're going to have the government go into that business."

The New York Times reports Reid is already working on plan B, or maybe C, to persuade one or both Republican senators from Maine to join the Democrats. It's a tough sell, but about the only game left. Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins voted with the Republican bloc, but at least "they stayed aloof from the assaults on the measure by other Republicans," the Times writes.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.