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Reid announces 'opt-out' option

From NBC's Mark Murray
As expected, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced today that the Senate health-care bill his office would be writing -- merging the Senate HELP and Senate Finance bills -- would include the so-called "opt out" public option plan.

While acknowledging that the public option would not be a silver bullet, he said at a news conference this afternoon that it would work to level the playing field with private health insurers. "States would be able to determine if the public option works for them," he said, referring to the "opt out" provision.

Reid also disclosed that he had discussed his move with the White House, as well as with Sens. Chris Dodd (chairman of the HELP committee) and Max Baucus (chair of the Finance committee). And he said he would be sending the legislation to the Congressional Budget Office for an official price tag.

When asked during the Q&A with reporters whether he was 100% sure he could get 60 votes on legislation that includes a public option "opt out," Reid side-stepped that question, saying that the legislation would have the support of the Democratic caucus.

When asked whether this move would endanger Sen. Olympia Snowe's (R) support for any health-care bill, Reid answered that he had spoken with her on Friday, and that she had made clear that she doesn't support a public option of any kind.  

Video: Sen. Harry Reid says that the public option with an 'opt out' is the best way forward. Watch his news conference.