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Healthcare Reform: Ben Nelson Doesn’t Know If He Didn’t Support a Public Plan

nelson-ben.thumbnail.jpgBen Nelson sure didn’t like the idea of a "public plan" when he spoke to CQ:

He called the inclusion of a public plan in legislation a “deal-breaker” for him.

In fact, he was going to form "a coalition of like-minded centrists" to oppose the inclusion of a public plan. But he seems curiously upset about a campaign to let Nebraskans know about that, according to his spokesperson, Jake Thompson:

“They claim, ‘Ben Nelson said he may not support Obama’s plan.’ Can they send us a copy of the plan? No, because President Obama hasn’t offered a specific plan yet."

Here’s what the ad says:

Like many Nebraska families, mine needs President Obama’s health care ‘public option’ — which is opposed by the same health insurance companies that gave Ben Nelson $2 million. Please, take on these special interests and fight for us, Ben."

I don’t think it’s in dispute that Obama supports a public plan:

Obama last year proposed "a new public plan based on benefits available to members of Congress that will allow individuals and small businesses to buy affordable health coverage."

Obama reiterated his support for a public plan when he met with progressives recently. Ben Nelson didn’t need a "copy of the plan" when he said it was a "deal breaker" for him, so I don’t know what he’s whining about now.

He said it. It wasn’t ambiguous. End of story.

Update:  Nelson backs down:

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) backed off his opposition to a public option in a meeting with health care advocates on Wednesday in Nebraska. Nelson, according to two people in the room, told the group that he was open to a public option, the primary Democratic goal of reform and anathema to conservatives.

Let’s hope his definition of "public plan" isn’t Chuck Schumer’s non-public plan.

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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