Update–Ted Kaufman makes 36: Ryan Grim:
Sen. Ted Kaufman will vote for a public insurance option as part of a health care reconciliation package, the Delaware Democrat told HuffPost Tuesday evening.
Whip count numbers now reflect this update.
The public option whip count in the Senate continues to make progress. Senator Ron Wyden says he would vote yes to pass a reconciliation bill with a public option:
Wyden, in a statement, said, “I’ve long believed we need a more competitive insurance market. If the House version of the public option came up for a vote in reconciliation I would vote yes.”
Also, in Colorado, Senator Mark Udall says the same:
Senator Udall shares President Obama’s over-arching priority of enacting meaningful and comprehensive health reform that will increase quality and access and put our system on a sustainable track by lowering costs for small businesses, taxpayers, and American families. As part of reform, he continues to feel that inclusion of a public option to go head-to-head with private insurers could play a significant role in bringing down costs and offering more affordable options to Coloradans. He thinks it’s important that such a plan — like the one approved in the House bill — negotiate reimbursement rates while competing on a level playing field with the private sector, and if such a plan comes up for a vote under the reconciliation process, he would vote for it.
So, here are the new whip count numbers:
Question #1: Open to using reconciliation to finish health reform?
No comment: 8
Question #2: Include a public option in reconciliation bill?
No comment: 12
The only “no” on reconciliation is Blanche Lincoln. As such, it is worth noting that her new primary opponent, Bill Halter, supports passing a public option through reconciliation:
Asked directly if he supported a public plan that would give folks access to Medicare or something like it, Halter answered: “Yes.”
“If you give individuals the opportuinity to voluntarily buy into a system like Medicare, there is broad support for that,” Halter said.
Asked directly whether he’d back a reconciliation vote on the public option – and the use of reconciliation in general to pass reform, which Lincoln has hedged on – Halter answered Yes on both counts.
“Reconciliation has been used multiple times not just on tax bills but on health bills,” he said.
When the “yes” and “maybe” votes on reconciliation are combined, they total 49. As such, if this pressure forced Blanche Lincoln to change her position on reconciliation, there would now be enough votes to pass a fix to the Senate health reform bill through the budget reconciliation process.