Health Wars

Can Obama Save the Public Option?

The Senate Finance Committee may have shot down amendments to add the public option to the health-care package, but the White House holds the power to keep the option alive. After endless debate in Congress, and a schism between moderates and liberals, Democratic factions are looking to President Obama to pull the party back together. Obama could have the final say on whether the public option ends up in the eventual House-Senate compromise bill. However, Obama has said that though he supports the option, it's only one method of many to keep health-care costs down. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) remains upbeat: "[The public option] was given up for dead a few weeks ago, but what we find is every time we debate it... we pick up more support. Every day I am more optimistic..." The deciding factor may be whether the president wants to pass a bill with 60 votes—which would have the patina of bipartisanship—or with 51. The latter may be the public option's only realistic hope.