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Pelosi Still Pushing for ‘Robust’ Public Option

House Democratic leaders on Friday pushed back against suggestions they have given up on securing the votes for a “robust— public health insurance option.

“Speculation that a final decision has been made about the public option are not accurate,— said Nadeam Elshami, spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). “We continue to work with all the members of the caucus to build consensus.—

A leadership aide added, “The votes are still being counted.—

Democratic leaders have struggled for months to find 218 votes for the robust public plan and still appear to be at least a few votes shy. Compounding their problem is that some Members have been threatening to vote no because of other parts of the bill, including its total cost, abortion questions and the taxes on the wealthy and businesses used to finance it.

Their whip effort is also complicated by developments in the Senate, which is considering a weaker version of the public option that would negotiate rates with providers and would cost about $85 billion more.

A bloc of liberals has vowed to oppose the bill if the public option is not tied to Medicare or if it is tied to a so-called “trigger— supported by Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe (Maine) and moderate Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson (Neb.).

Another leadership aide said that the issue would be discussed at a 9:30 a.m. Democratic Caucus meeting.

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