20091209 senators health reform 18
U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington and Sen. Charles Schumer of New York, left, talk with Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida prior to the weekly policy committee luncheon on Capitol Hill. Key members for the Senate version of the Health Care Reform Bill are still negotiating. - 


Bill Radke: Senior Senate Democrats appear to have a tentative deal on health care. The agreement abandons the government-run insurance plan -- at least for now -- and expands Medicare coverage. Let's bring in Marketplace's Ashley Milne-Tyte, live from New York -- good morning, Ashley.

Ashley Milne-Tyte: Good morning.

Radke: So is the public option out the window?

Milne-Tyte: Well, some senators seemed to indicate last night that the new agreement doesn't completely kill the idea of a public option. It just sort of pushes it aside. But most reports out today pretty much imply the public option idea is dead.

Radke: Well tell us more. What do we know about their agreement?

Milne-Tyte: So there'd be a national, low-cost plan, and the whole thing would be administered by a government agency, the Office of Personnel Management. And that's the agency that oversees health coverage for federal workers -- so you know, the great health coverage the rest of us have heard so much about. And the agency would negotiate with private insurers. Also, the agreement would allow people who are 55 to 64 to buy into Medicare at subsidized rates. The idea being that there are a lot of people in that age group now who have trouble getting coverage, so this would help them be able to afford coverage.

Radke: And at what cost?

Milne-Tyte: Well, we don't know too much about cost yet. The next step is to get the Congressional Budget Office to weigh in on that.

Radke: OK. Marketplace's Ashley Milne-Tyte, joining us live. Thanks, Ashley.

Milne-Tyte: You're welcome.