Dem will push for public option in separate bill if not included in existing package

If a public health insurance option is not added to existing healthcare reform legislation, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said Wednesday that he would push for one using a separate bill. 

Brown, a liberal Democrat, told reporters that he hopes that Democratic leaders include a public plan in the current package but said that he would "absolutely" try to cobble together a different proposal if it is not. 

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"If we don't get it on this. I still hope we get it on this. If we don't get it on this, we can give it a try," he said. Asked if that meant passing separate legislation, he answered "Absolutely, absolutely, oh yeah."

President Barack Obama did not include a public plan in his first set of fixes to the House and Senate healthcare bills released last week. Obama is set to introduce another proposal of corrections Wednesday.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) dropped the government-run plan from his bill in December after he could not attract enough centrist support to the bill with it included.

But Reid has come under pressure from 34 members of the Senate Democratic Caucus who want him to pass the public option using the budget reconciliation process. Reid has hinted that he would consider the idea but other Democratic leaders have been loathe to say that they will reintroduce the plan that divided their party last year.

The president and Democratic leaders have said that the legislation won't be perfect, but that a framework is needed to make changes down the line.