Baucus, the committee chairman, said he believed that adding a public option to the current insurance landscape could lower costs, but said including it in his bill would jeopardize the chances of passing heath care reform through Congress. "I can count," he said. "And no one has shown me how to get to 60 votes with the public option in the bill."
All 10 Republicans on the committee, including Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine, voted against the Rockefeller amendment, as did moderate Democrats Tom Carper of Delaware, Kent Conrad of North Dakota, Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, Bill Nelson of Florida and Baucus. "My first job is to get this bill across the finish line," Baucus concluded.
Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) also proposed a easure to add the public option into the bill, but his did not tie the rates to medicare, and Schumer's proposal was also rejected.
A key Senate committee voted against two separate proposals that would have created a new government health insurance plan after senators sparred for hours Tuesday over the necessity of a so-called public option to compete with the private market.
The 15-to-8 vote by the Senate Finance Committee could forecast the fate of the public option in the Senate as a whole. The outcome was expected but still a defeat for liberals who view government-sponsored insurance for the middle class as a key component of President Obama's health care overhaul.
Five committee Democrats, including Chairman Max Baucus, joined with all 10 committee Republicans to defeat the measure by Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia.
Also covered by Wall Street Journal, AP and Washington Post.