By Tom Curry National affairs writer
msnbc.com
updated 9/8/2009 10:33:43 AM ET 2009-09-08T14:33:43

Claim: Without the votes of the Democrats who support the public option, the House health insurance bill cannot pass.

  1. Don't miss these Health stories
    1. Splash News
      More women opting for preventive mastectomy - but should they be?

      Rates of women who are opting for preventive mastectomies, such as Angeline Jolie, have increased by an estimated 50 percent in recent years, experts say. But many doctors are puzzled because the operation doesn't carry a 100 percent guarantee, it's major surgery -- and women have other options, from a once-a-day pill to careful monitoring.

    2. Larry Page's damaged vocal cords: Treatment comes with trade-offs
    3. Report questioning salt guidelines riles heart experts
    4. CDC: 2012 was deadliest year for West Nile in US
    5. What stresses moms most? Themselves, survey says

The 83-member Progressive Caucus, which speaks for left-of-center Democrats, told President Obama last week, "We cannot vote for anything less" than a health insurance bill which includes a public option, a federally run insurance plan similar to Medicare. The progressives see the public option as the only way to curb the power of private insurance firms.

Is it fact or fiction? Fact. If Progressive Caucus members keep their pledge and vote “no” on a bill lacking a public option, they would scuttle the bill, (assuming almost all Republicans also vote “no.”)

Will the progressives hold firm? "We've got 60 members who will not vote for a plan without a public option," said Progressive leader Rep. Keith Ellison, D- Minn. The math is 257 total Democrats minus 60 equals 197. The number needed for passage is 218.

The Blue Dogs are opposed: The 52-member Blue Dog caucus, a group of fiscally cautious Democrats, opposes a “Medicare-like” public option. “Using Medicare’s below-market rates would seriously weaken the financial stability of our local hospitals and doctors,” they told Speaker Nancy Pelosi. If most Blue Dogs voted against the bill, it would be defeated.

Pelosi’s choice: Pelosi herself said last week, "A bill without a strong public option will not pass the House," but if it is in the bill, she risks losing the Blue Dogs, and if it isn’t in the bill she risks losing the progressives. Can she mollify each?

Send us a health care claim you'd like msnbc.com to investigate — and check back for your daily dose of reality. E-mail us at doseofreality@msnbc.com, submit your question on Newsvine or tweet @msnbc_health using the tag #doseofreality.

© 2013 msnbc.com Reprints

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,