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Lots of talk about CBO scoring today, and now Talking Points Memo is reporting that things are looking good for a strong public option, at least on the House side:  

A preliminary analysis from CBO may have sealed the deal. Speaker Nancy Pelosi is preparing to move ahead with a "robust" public option--one that reimburses hospitals and providers at Medicare rates, plus five percent--in the House's health care bill.

More:

The analysis finds the reconstituted House proposal to be deficit neutral, and require about $870 billion in new spending, over ten years.

And that's all Pelosi needed to move:

She is briefing her caucus about the plan's savings tonight, and, pending the approval of a sufficient majority of members, will adopt the measure as part of the complete reform package.

Excellent news, at least from the House side, where things have always looked a hell of a lot better than the Senate. But Pelosi has stated that "she intends to send House negotiators to a health care conference committee with the maximum possible leverage for the public option". In regard to this, TPM notes:

The move is sure to make progressives ecstatic, and puts Senate leaders, who have been unable to reach any decisions about a public option in their own bill, in an uncomfortable position.

Uncomfortable? Good. I hope it makes them exceedingly uncomfortable.

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ADDED from AP:

Pelosi assembled Democratic lawmakers Tuesday night to try to sell them on her preferred version of the public plan, which would link payment rates to providers to Medicare rates, plus an additional 5 percent for doctors. Moderates have been concerned that those rates are too low and would hurt hospitals and other providers particularly in rural areas.

Several lawmakers said they were getting close to the 218-vote majority needed for the stronger version.

"That's certainly where a large majority of the caucus is," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md.

And from Chris Bowers at Open Left comes some good analysis:

This is an enormous step forward for the public option campaign.  If the House passes a health care reform bill with the Medicare +5% public option, which now appears likely, the chances of a public option of some sort ending up in the final bill skyrocket.

Originally posted to MeMeMeMeMe on Tue Oct 20, 2009 at 06:14 PM PDT.

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