Even more so after Ted Kennedy’s death, Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s vote on health care reform will be critical. It’s not clear Democrats have even 51 votes for a plan that will contain costs, especially for the most controversial approach: a so-called “public option” that will force insurers to compete with a government-chartered entity.
Given the Dems’ tremulousness, Klobuchar’s position is crucial; if a Minnesota DFLer says no, the plan is irredeemably dead at the national level. After the Senator’s tele-townhall Sunday, some lefties complained she was clear as mud about the public option, and our own Doug Grow agreed.
So it was with surprise, and confusion, I read Bill Salisbury’s take in Monday’s Pioneer Press. Of Klobuchar, he wrote:
“She said she supports creating a government-run insurance program, the so-called “public option,” to compete with private plans.”
Did Bill hear something others didn’t?
I asked him, and he replied, “After Amy said she was open to a ‘competitive option,’ she said, ‘The one that I would prefer would be one where you allow people to buy into something, either the federal health care plan itself or something exactly like it.’ I inferred from that that she supports a public option. I’ll try to get a clarification from her staff.”
You gotta love a guy who doesn’t get defensive when questioned; Bill is a class act. He did indeed check; here’s his follow-up email:
“David — Klobuchar spokesman Linden Zakula said her position on the public option is: ‘She is open to it, but wants to look at the full plan in its entirety’ before making a decision on it. He said her priority is to make health insurance more competitive, and she’ll support whatever achieves that, whether it’s a public option or co-ops. That’s not a straight yes or no on the public option, but whatever works best seems to be a reasonable position to me.”
Perhaps, but at the risk of being uncharitable, I’d say the PiPress owes its readers a clarification. As Salisbury’s follow-up email indicates, the public option and co-ops are commonly understood as two different things. Bill originally wrote Klobuchar supports a public option, but the reality is that she may support it.
In other words, don’t count on that vote yet. Amy’s position is written in mud, not stone — and journalists would be smart to do more on the Senator’s stand.