Hoyer says public option will survive Blue Dogs' concerns

Centrist Democrats' concerns about a public (or "government-run") option for consumers won't be a hurdle to passing a healthcare reform bill in the House, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) suggested Wednesday.

Hoyer maintained that the final bill will include a public option, suggesting the provision can survive Blue Dog Democrats' concerns.

"I think we will have a public option, yes," Hoyer said in an interview on CNBC.

"The Blue Dogs want to make sure the public option is not simply a transition to an all-public system," he explained. "They're not drawing a line in the sand in terms of the public option. They did indicate they wanted a trigger on the public option."

Hoyer also downplayed centrist and freshman Democrats' concerns about a surtax on high earners contained within the House bill to finance the $1 trillion reform package.

"I don't frankly think that that's going to be the final worry," Hoyer said.

The second-ranking House Democrat said that there was flexibility on where the surtax would kick in, though Hoyer stated his own preference for instituting the tax for couples making $350,000 or more. "I think that's an appropriate level," he said.

Hoyer still indicated Democrats are on track to finish a preliminary healthcare bill before the August recess, and said October is the "target date" for when he'd like to have it on President Obama's desk for signature.

More in Defense

Obama official 'regrets' lawmakers weren't consulted on Cuba

Read more »