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Sep 29, 2009 5:33 PM by Associated Press

Senate panel rejects public health plans

Liberal Democrats have tried twice, and failed both times, to make a government-run insurance option part of the health care legislation coming out of the Senate Finance Committee.

There's bipartisan agreement that private insurance companies must change their ways, and some Democrats see the public option as a way to make sure costs are competitive.

But committee chairman Max Baucus, who voted with a majority of committee members against that idea, says he hasn't seen any way to get 60 Senate votes in favor of the public option. And he says it's his job to get a bill to the floor that will pass.

The rejection of the government-run insurance plan leaves open the possibility that at least one Republican -- Olympia Snowe of Maine -- may support the overhaul. Baucus and the White House want that GOP vote.

Supporters of the new role for government say they'll try again for a federal option when the full Senate votes.

The committee is in its second week of public debate on legislation that generally follows the guidelines set out by President Barack Obama.

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