‘Top Line’: House Dems Insist on Public Option

ABC News’ Rick Klein reports: As the Senate Finance Committee works on a version of health care reform that doesn’t include a “public option,” House Democrats today unveiled their own plan -- with a public option as one of the centerpieces.

Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J., said on ABCNews.com’s “Top Line” today that there should “absolutely” be a public option built into any reform plans -- to ensure better service from private insurers, and to provide an insurer of last resort.

“Should there be a public option? I think absolutely there should be,” Holt told us. “One is to provide really honest competition. To have a way of injecting best practice into the medical profession. Because, you know, a lot of people out there are not really concerned about who pays for it and how. They want to know that their mother, or their daughter, or their son gets good care.”

“The public option is a way of injecting good quality care, patient-oriented care, into the process,” he added. “It also provides a safety valve and a backstop in a sense that it will be a place where people can take refuge if their employer doesn’t provide healthcare. This will be an affordable, we expect, alternative.”

Asked whether he’d sacrifice bipartisanship in the interest of getting a public plan in the bill -- since leading Republicans have said they consider such a move a deal-breaker -- Holt said he’s not giving up hope.

“I’m not sure if either bipartisanship or a public option,” he said. “I think what we need to do is focus on the patient. And if we focus on the patient, everyone can agree that what we’re trying to do here is put an emphasis on primary care, on training nurse practitioners, on getting the health records in a way that benefit the patient more than the insurance company. If we keep that focus, I think people of all parties -- or no parties -- will come together.”

We also talked with Holt about a bill he’s sponsoring, the Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act, that would create a national standard for voting that requires paper ballots to be used.

In 20 states, Holt said, “the results of the election, of any election, of any federal election, cannot be audited. If there is a problem, chances are no one will know. And if a problem is identified there will be no way of resolving it. That’s because unverifiable electronic voting systems are totally unverifiable and therefore recounts are meaningless.”

Watch the full interview with Rep. Rush Holt HERE.

Also today, we sat down with The New York Times’ Jeff Zeleny about the health care push, the latest polls, and -- in Zeleny’s analogy -- the president’s move to Broadway from community theater. (Zeleny, who covered Obama as a senator for the Chicago Tribune, says he seems like the same guy -- mostly.)

Watch the interview with Jeff Zeleny HERE.

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