If a government-run public health plan option is established, Congress should be required to participate in it, Senate lawmakers have decided.
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which is in the process of wrapping up negotiations on Sen. Edward Kennedy's Affordable Health Choices Act, narrowly approved by a vote of 12-11 an amendment by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) that would mandate Congress to enroll in the public option outlined in the bill
“Let's demonstrate leadership—and confidence in the system—by requiring that every member of Congress go into it,” Coburn said, arguing that ultimately, most everyone would end up on the public option. Others on the committee balked at the idea, including Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.). “I don't know why we should require ourselves to participate in a plan that no one else needs to participate in. This bill goes to great lengths to show that the choice is there for everybody.”
The amendment was supported by Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.), the panel's acting chairman.
In other business, the committee approved language that would require insurers offering coverage under the bill's health insurance exchange to provide understandable explanations of their benefits to enrollees, but rejected an amendment that would have allowed Medicaid patients to opt out of Medicaid and give them a subsidy to enroll in private insurance.
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