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July 30, 2014

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Harry Reid to back health care bill with public option

WASHINGTON -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made one of the more pivotal moves of his career this afternoon -- announcing that he would bring to the floor a health care bill that includes a public option, with a provision that allows states that decline to offer the government-run insurance plan the chance to opt out.

Immediately the accolades and attacks started pouring in.

The White House issued a statement saying President Barack Obama “is pleased that the Senate has decided to include a public option for health coverage, in this case with an allowance for states to opt out.”

“The President congratulates Senator Reid and Chairmen Baucus and Dodd for their hard work on health insurance reform,” the White House said. “Thanks to their efforts, we’re closer than we’ve ever been to solving this decades-old problem.”

Republican opponents of the bill and the health care industry, however, are not pleased.

Karen Ignani, the president and CEO of the leading health insurance lobby, America’s Health Insurance Plans, said the “divisive debate about a government-run plan is a roadblock to reform.”

The Republican National Committee, which has been targeting Reid almost daily over his actions on health care reform, said: “It’s already clear that the Democrats’ government-run health care experiment will increase taxes and increase premiums on Nevadan families and small businesses, cut Medicare for seniors, and put government between patients and their doctors.”

But in two recent polls, a slim majority of Nevadans, up to than 54 percent, have said they support a public option, similar to government-run Medicare, to compete with the insurance companies. Nationwide, a majority of Americans have told pollsters they support a public option.