The loud applause heard emanating from the room where Senate health-care-reform negotiations were taking place yesterday was, alas, not a reaction to a grand bargain being struck, but to the Giants-Cowboys game, which the senators were apparently watching at some point. But a compromise may be in the works regardless. As the august body struggles to put together a bill that every single Democrat and Joe Lieberman can agree on, there was talk over the weekend of replacing the public option with something similar to the Federal Employee Health Benefits Plan, which is what members of Congress use.
The political appeal here, as far as we can tell, seems to be that while the plan is run entirely by private, not-for-profit insurers, the fact that members of the government use it makes it sound kind of public option-y. (Health-care wonk Ezra Klein refers to it as "a private option with a public filter." He also gets into the nitty-gritty.) If liberal senators acquiesce, well, we might just have ourselves a plan that 60 senators can agree on. But we're not there yet, and frankly, we've heard about the death and revival of the public option so many times now that we have trouble taking it seriously anymore.