Baucus Bill Passes. Process Moves Forward. Public Option Push Critical.

Bill Scher

Sen. Olympia Snowe, before breaking party ranks to join all Democrats on the Senate Finance in support of health care reform, said the most accurate thing of the day: “This will not be the final bill.”

Knowing that fact, one wonders why Snowe wanted to wait for a more detailed Congressional Budget Office estimate and delay this vote for another two weeks. But the past is past.

What the Senate Finance Committee did today was simply move the process forward. Sen. Jay Rockefeller voted yes, but is still opposed to a bill without a public option. Sen. Ron Wyden voted yes, but is still concerned that the health insurance “exchanges” — where you would get any public option — are limited to too few people. And Sen. Snowe voted yes, but won’t do it again unless the final CBO analysis of the final wording of the final legislation shows a cut in the deficit.

Now the process moves to Sen. Harry Reid’s office, where he will combine elements of the Senate health committee bill, which includes a public option, and the Finance bill, which has seed money for co-ops that are so meaningless to reform everyone has already forgotten about them.

Reid could finish his work by the end of this week. So if there was a ever a time to press the case for a public option, by, say, showing what will happen if we remain at the mercy of private insurance, it is now.

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