In a setback for the ongoing public option campaign, Senator Jay Rockefeller has come out in opposition:
Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.) threw a wrench into Democratic efforts to get a public option passed through reconciliation, saying that he thought the maneuver was overly partisan and that he was inclined to oppose it.
"I don't think the timing of it is very good," the West Virginia Democrat said on Monday. "I'm probably not going to vote for that, although I'm strongly for the public option, because I think it creates, at a time when we really need as much bipartisan[ship] ... as possible."
Rockefeller added: "I don't think you [pursue] something like the public option, which cannot pass, will not pass. And if we get the Senate bill--both through the medical loss ratio and the national plans, which have in that, every one of them has to have one not-for-profit plan, which is sort of like a public option."
Rockefeller fought hard for the public option in 2009. He led the fight for the pubic option in the Senate finance committee, and he helped forge the short-lived Medicare buy-in compromise. As such, having Rockefeller turn against the public option is a blow.
What I find particularly difficult to accept about Rockefeller's statement is that he He railed against replacing the public option with co-ops during 2009, but seems to be supporting them now. It is also difficult to accept someone calling himself a strong support of the public option, but saying that bipartisanship is more important. Because, like, a lot of Republicans voted for the health care bill when the public option was dropped.
Still, in the end, Rockefeller is only one vote. Democrats can afford to lose nine, and still pass the public option. Also, there are other ways of achieving increased public health insurance, such as Medicare buy-ins, expansions of Medicaid and CHIP, or just directly providing health care through expanding community health center funding. The goal is to provide more people with the option of choosing public health insurance, and that is still achievable.