From NBC's Ken Strickland
Now that it's becoming clear that the Senate Finance Committee will not include President Obama's request for a government-run insurance program -- the so-called public option -- some Senate Democrats are wrestling with how to keep the issue alive. But it's also clear that including a public option would almost automatically kill any chance for bipartisan support in the Senate.
"Look, my first choice is to have a public plan, to have a public option," Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) said. "But we all understand there's going to be some compromise in this effort. That's the only way you can put a complicated bill like this together."
The Finance Committee seems to have coalesced around a co-op style plan. But other Democrats suggested the fight is just beginning.
Video: Author of "Best Care Anywhere," Philip Longman, talks about GOP scare tactics attacking government-controlled health care, a system that has already proven effective for politicians, the elderly and military veterans.
"I think people have strongly held positions about the public plan," said Sen. Debbie Stabenow, who strongly supports a public plan. She said because there would be more steps in the negotiations en route to a final bill, the Finance Committee bill "is a critical one, but not the only one."
Every other Congressional health-care bill includes a public option.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid refused to say which position he'll take when he has to merge the Finance bill with the Senate health committee bill.
"It would be really premature for me to lay out for each of you what I think should be in this bill," Reid said today. "I have a responsibility to get a bill on the Senate floor that will get 60 votes... that's my No. 1 responsibility, and there are times when I have to set aside my personal preferences for the good of the Senate, and I think the country."