"There are various versions of public option being bandied about," Baucus said on a conference call with reporters. "The long and short of it is, this issue is alive."
While the health care bill Baucus produced as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee did not include a public option, Baucus said Democrats in the Senate are deliberating over a number of different public option proposals, ranging from "Medicare-light," to an option that would put the government on an "even playing field" with private insurers, to a government plan that states could opt in or opt out of.
"I want any mechanism which keeps the health insurance industry's feet to the fire," Baucus said. He added, "The major goal is to get health care reform that passes the Senate."
Baucus said that Republicans and other Democrats will have opportunities to add other amendments on the Senate floor and that he expects someone to introduce an amendment regarding medical malpractice reform.