What the House offers as a public-option health plan may be “somewhat different” from what the Senate produces, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told reporters. Hoyer wouldn't elaborate on whether congressional Democrats would consider a public option with a state opt-out provision, an alternative Senate lawmakers are seeking to include in their healthcare bill.
“We think our decision in the House will be based on what the majority can support,” he said.
Hoyer nevertheless said he was pleased that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) finally included a public option in the Senate's bill, and said that it would now be easier to negotiate such a provision during the House-Senate conference on the legislation.
Republicans such as Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), chairman of the House Republican Conference, were quick to criticize the Senate's new approach. Pence said at a news briefing that the state opt-out provision sounded like a classic “Washington two-step: trying to do indirectly what they don't have the votes to do directly.”