The "whip count," started last night, seeks to prove that there are a majority 218 votes in the House for what liberals call a "robust public option." Robust generally means that providers' compensation would be tied to Medicare rates.Progressives want a “robust” public option that would pay Medicare reimbursement rate plus 5%. By using modified Medicare payment rates the public option would be roughly 10% cheaper than typical private health insurance. It would also reduce the cost of the bill by roughly $110 Billion.
"We're asking everybody," said Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-chairwoman Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.).
The robust public option has strong support among Democrats in the House but may not be supported by a full 218 members. Progressives have been challenged by Speaker Pelosi to prove that they have the votes need for their robust public option.
Using negotiated rates not tied to Medicare would reduce the cost saving from a public option by $85 billion. Presumably, going with a less robust public option would require a corresponding $85 billion reduction in affordability tax credits and/or aid to states to pay for an expansion in Medicaid.