As we have discussed in this space before, one of the most contentious issues in the health care debate so far is whether the plan will include a “public option”–a Medicare-like, publicly financed plan that Americans could choose if they are not satisfied with the options they get from private insurance companies. Insurance companies say that is a non-starter from their point of view, as it would put them at an unfair disadvantage. And top negotiators–who want to keep those companies at the table–have sent signals that they are willing to adjust the plan, to make it less of a threat to insurers, or drop it all together.
The latest sign that this is indeed where negotiations are heading is a new letter from Senators Jay Rockefeller and Sherrod Brown to their respective committee chairmen, Max Baucus and Ted Kennedy:
This kind of public letter is what, in the legislating business, amounts to a warning shot. Over at Politico, Carrie Budoff Brown reports that the letter has been signed by 16 Democrats.