"I would not support a bill that does not have a public option," Burris, 72, said in a recent interview with The Associated Press. "That position will not change."By public option, Burris means a real public option. Not a trigger that might someday, hopefully create a public option. Not “allowing” states to maybe set up small, highly restricted state-based public plans. Burris is talking about a real, national, public health insurance option:
He won't vote, for example, for Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe's idea to use the threat of a public option to force insurers to lower premiums by certain deadlines. He hasn't seen the details of another idea, proposed by Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., that would allow each state to decide whether to offer public coverage to compete with private insurers. The health committee's proposal, he says, must be in the final bill to earn his vote.The important question is what does Burris mean by his support? Harry Reid does not need Burris's vote to pass a bill without a public option as long as Burris still votes for cloture. Reid would need Burris's vote for cloture unless he can convince Snowe to vote with the other 59 members of the Democratic caucus to end a filibuster.
If Burris is willing hold firm to a refusal to vote for cloture unless the bill contains a public option, he could really affect the final outcome. If he is only going to withhold his vote for final passage, but not for cloture, Burris is just talking tough and blowing smoke. So far, Burris has not yet made his exact position clear.