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Kay Hagan, Key Senate Democrat: "I Support" Public Plan

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One of the Democratic senators who was on the fence when it came to backing a public option for health insurance coverage is coming out in support of the measure.

On Thursday, Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) offered her support for the health care overhaul proposal put forth by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, of which she is a member. In the process, she issued a statement that removed any doubt about where she stands on a publicly run insurance option.

"My colleagues and I on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee have been working on a plan to reform the health care system in this country," Hagan's statement read. "We have crafted a plan that will stabilize health care costs and includes a Community Health Insurance Option, which I support. It is a backstop option for people without access to affordable coverage. Health care providers will not be required to participate, payment rates will be set in a competitive fashion, and the community health insurance option will compete on a level playing field with private health insurance plans in the gateway."

The public plan portion of the proposal, known as the Community Health Insurance Option, would be overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services, but follow the rules set forth by the private market. At the same time, it would lower the costs of health care by pooling the purchasing powers of its participants and it would drastically lower the administrative costs customary to private providers. In short, one source on the committee said, it is the robust proposal that progressive wanted. And now Hagan, as her office confirmed to the Huffington Post, supports it.

For days, even weeks, the North Carolina Democrat had been pinpointed as a possible roadblock towards getting a strong public option out of the HELP committee. Progressive groups were running advertisements in her state to compel her to support the provision. Local pressure on the Senator was intense as well as it was widely believed that she was trying to water down the public option during the committee's drafting process.

In the end, Democrats say, Hagan was much more solid on the idea than media reports were letting on.

"The Left is wrong about Sen. Hagan on this," said a Senior Democratic staffer. "For others to attack her as standing in the way of progress on public choice just isn't right. She worked right up to the wire with other Democrats on the Committee. In the end, it will be plan they created together that will pass the Senate, guarantee access to affordable coverage for those who don't have it and preserve the options of those who do."

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