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Congress: Opt out of opt out?

Per the Washington Post, the Congressional Budget Office said the public option "opt out" in Reid's bill "would have relatively little impact on the current system, would charge 'somewhat higher' premiums than its private competitors and would draw only about 4 million subscribers. The decision to permit states to opt out of the public plan is partly to blame for the Reid proposal's lack of reach, as it would leave about a third of the people in the country without access to the program, according to the CBO's calculation. But even the national plan approved by the House this month would attract only about 6 million people, the nonpartisan group has said, primarily because it would lack the tools to keep costs and premiums down." 

The New York Times looks at the abortion issue in the Senate bill. "Under the House bill, federal money could not be used 'to pay for any abortion or to cover any part of the costs of any health plan that includes coverage of abortion,' except in case of rape or incest or if the life of a pregnant woman was in danger. Thus, a plan that received federal subsidies for low- and moderate-income people could not offer abortion coverage. Under the Senate bill, insurers would not be required or forbidden to cover abortion. But, the measure says, in every part of the country, the government would have to ensure that there is at least one plan that covers abortion and at least one that does not."

More: "The secretary of health and human services would decide whether a proposed new government insurance plan would cover abortion. In general, if insurers cover abortion, they could not use federal money to pay for the procedure. They could use only subscriber premiums and would have to keep the money separate from subsidies received from the federal government."

The New York Times covers yesterday's congressional hearing looking at the Fort Hood shootings. "A Senate committee on Thursday opened the first public hearings into the Fort Hood shootings, with several legislators asserting that the incident in which 13 people were killed was a terrorist attack by a homegrown extremist who may have slipped past law enforcement and military authorities. Hours later at a Pentagon news conference, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates announced that former Army Secretary Togo West and a former chief of naval operations, Vernon Clark, would lead a broad Pentagon review of the circumstances surrounding the shootings in which 13 people were killed and 43 were injured."