"Majority Leader Harry Reid says health care legislation headed to the Senate floor will include an option for government-run insurance," the Associated Press reports. "Reid says states will have the prerogative of opting out of the program if they choose."
"I believe that a public option can achieve the goal of bringing meaningful reform to our broken system," said the senator, who pointed to polls showing robust public support for giving the US government a wider health care role.
"It will protect consumers, keep insurers honest and ensure competition. And that's why we intend to include it in the bill that will be submitted to the Senate," said Reid.
The announcement came after a months-long blitz by Obama's Republican foes against the public option, which has also drawn concern from swing-vote Democrats.
This video is from MSNBC's News Live, broadcast Oct. 26, 2009.
Original story follows:
DEVELOPING: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is expected to announce his support for a public health option to be included in the Senate's health care bill, sources tell Bloomberg news service.
The Nevada Democrat is scheduled to hold a press conference at 3:15 pm ET on Monday, where he will reportedly make the declaration. Several news sources are reporting that Reid will announce his support for an opt-out clause that will allow individual states to reject the public option.
The move marks one of the most significant steps forward for advocates of a public health care option. The majority leader's position is considered vital in setting the tone in debating Senate legislation.
"A highly placed source suggests that Reid's preference remains to include a public option with an opt out clause, despite the fact that the White House is skeptical that this is the most politically viable strategy," reports Brian Beutler at TalkingPointsMemo.
The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that Senate Democratic leaders are finalizing the health bill they will bring to the Senate floor within days. The newspaper also reports that a public option with an opt-out clause will be included in the legislation.
(with AFP report)