Grassley still holding out for broad GOP support on health bill

Senate Finance Committee ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) on Monday continued to express hope that a wide swath of Republican senators would support a final version health reform legislation.

Grassley's announcement comes after Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs expressed that a public option is now not an essential part of President Obama's healthcare agenda.

The Iowa Republican said that he would "presumably not" be one of three or four Senate Republicans to vote for the health bill on MSNBC's "Morning Meeting." Though Grassley said he would not vote for a bill with narrow GOP support, he expressed hope that a bipartisan solution could be reached.

He reiterated that the bill ought to be done in a "consensus sort of way" and that any deal he cut with the rest of the "gang of six" in the Finance Committee "isn't a good deal if I can't sell my product to more Republicans."

"I'm negotiating for Republicans and if I can't negotiate something that gets more than four Republicans, I'm not a very good representative of my party," he added. "We're talking about healthcare, that's life or death for every American."

Regarding the potential elimination of a public health insurance option, Grassley said he would favor a wide range of alternatives such as healthcare co-ops, market exchanges, or selling insurance across state lines.

"As an alternative...it does offer options and it does it in a way that's consumer and patient oriented," he said of the co-ops.

When recess ends, the Finance Committee will have a one week window to meet chairman Max Baucus' (D-Mont.) September 15 deadline to finalize their version of the bill. Some Democratic Senators indicated they would be willing to push ahead with a party line vote if the committee cannot reach its deadline.

Baucus himself downplayed reports of a deadline earlier this month.