House Dems Lack Votes For “Robust” Government Plan

Greg Sargeant reports :

House Dem leadership has conducted its preliminary whip count and has tallied up less than 200 likely Yes votes in support of a health care reform bill with a robust public option, well short of the 218 needed for passage, according to an internal whip count document I’ve obtained….

The document shows that 47 House Dems are committed No votes, and eight are Leaning No, for a total of 56. That means of 256 House Dems, only 200 remain, and a dozen of those are listed as undecided. The bill needs 218 votes for passage.

To be clear, “robust public option” is a code word for a government-run plan that would reimburse doctors and hospitals at Medicare rates, plus five percent. So this whip count wouldn’t necessarily apply to a weaker government plan in which rates would be negotiated. (Whether the government could fairly “negotiate” rates is another mattter). The problem is, moving to a weaker form of the government plan could win over some moderates, but also runs the risk of losing liberal members.