The U.S. Senate Finance Committee last night voted down two different amendments that would have created a government “option” health insurance plan to “compete” with private insurance.
A key Senate panel twice beat back efforts Tuesday to create a government-run insurance plan, dealing a crippling blow to the hopes of liberals seeking to expand the federal role in health coverage as a cornerstone of reform.
In a signal moment in the increasingly fractious debate over reforming the nation’s sprawling health-care system, Senate Finance Committee members rejected two amendments to create a public option on votes of 15 to 8 and 13 to 10.
The push for the government “option,” however, is far from over.
Despite the setback for advocates of a public option, debate over such a plan is certain to continue. Sens. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.) and Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), who offered the amendments that were voted down Tuesday, have vowed to keep the issue at the forefront as the debate unfolds. And Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) could include a government plan when he combines the Finance Committee’s bill with Senate health committee legislation, approved in July, that includes a public option.