When President Obama made overhauling the U.S. health care system his top domestic priority, he supported the so-called public option to help cover some of the nation's uninsured. As the debate lumbered forward over the summer, many Democrats said they would oppose any health care reform bill without a robust public option. But when Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) drafted a health care bill in the influential Senate Finance Committee, there was no public option included, in part because Republicans stood united against a government-run health insurarnce agency, calling it the first step toward socialized medicine. As far as the Senate was concerned, the public option was dead. But in the House of Representatives, the public option is back in the center of the debate.
Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) has pushed for health care reform legislation to include a public option from early on in the debate. Even though it didn't make it into the Senate Finance committee's health care bill, the public option is now gaining steam. A new Washington Post-ABC News poll says 57% of Americans actually support it.