03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Privately-Run Public Option Compromise Eyed By Senate Democrats

Senate Democrats are eying a compromise on the public option that would involve private companies running the not-for-profit insurance plans, reports the Wall Street Journal:

Democrats wrestled with a new proposal on a government health-insurance plan that would give private entities a central role in running the program, in a bid for compromise on one of the health bill's most divisive issues.

The talks came as President Barack Obama traveled to Capitol Hill Sunday to urge party unity among Senate Democrats considering the measure.

Under this proposal, the Office of Personnel Management will oversee the program.

Politico notes that such a compromise is a signal "that the chances a final bill will include a pure public option are diminishing."

Public option opponent Senator Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) told Politico:

"Seems to me it would be in lieu of the public option," Nelson said. He also said Reid's "opt-out" idea "is no longer being talked about."

At The New Republic, Jonathan Cohn is arguing that progressives should now turn their focus to making other parts of the bill better.

If liberals give yet more ground on the public option, what should they ask in return? So far, according to multiple Capitol Hill sources, liberals have been focusing primarily on the design of the public plan itself--that is, finding ways to make a further weakened version something that at least help fulfill the promise of the original idea ... [L]iberals ought to be ... [u]sing their concessions on the public option to demand improvements elsewhere in the bill.

But it is still unclear what this new compromise will look like, and whether other public option proposals are completely off the table.

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