Blue Dog leader: public option unlikely to survive conference report

A public (or "government-run") option in the healthcare bill before Congress is unlikely to survive conference between the House and Senate, a leader of the centrist Blue Dog coalition said this weekend.

Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-N.D.) said that while there is a good chance the preliminary House bill will contain the controversial provision, the final bill which will head to the White House probably won't contain the option.

"I think that it will not survive the conference committee," Herseth Sandlin said during an interview with The Daily Republic. She said any version to pass through the House would have to be "structured under very stringent requirements to meet the many concerns that people have about the potential of driving out private companies that would offer plans on the exchange."

Blue Dogs have been reluctant to back the version of the healthcare bill in the House, over concerns about the public option, as well as over some of the taxes used to finance the $1 trillion bill.

Herseth Sandlin did not signal whether she would back healthcare cooperatives, a compromise under consideration by the Senate Finance Committee in order to bring in centrist Democrats' and Republicans' votes for the reform bill.

The South Dakota Democrat, the Blue Dogs' co-chairwoman for administration, said that if the healthcare bill were to have a public option, she would prefer it have a "trigger."

She did predict a more extended timeline for the healthcare debate than those in House and Senate Democratic leadership, who have said that they want to have a bill ready for the president's signature by October.

"I think there will be a real full-court press by the White House to try to get both chambers to act on something just to get it out of the chambers, get it to conference if the Senate Finance Committee can act," she said. "I think you