Pawlenty Says He Would Lead A Campaign To Opt Out Of The Public Option In Minnesota

Reports surfaced today that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is considering a proposal to include the public option that would allow states to “opt-out” of the program.

Today on ABC’s Top Line, co-host David Chalian asked Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) if he would “opt-out” of the public option for his state if the measure passed. Pawlenty dodged: “Well, I don’t know if we would opt out but I personally would like to opt out because I don’t like government run health care.” But Chalian persisted, and ultimately, Pawlenty said that he would oppose the public option for Minnesota:

CHALIAN: But you would lead a charge in your state to opt out if that was an option available? PAWLENTY: I think so because I don’t like government run health care.

Watch it:

However, Pawlenty has said that he supports “government run health care” in the past — in fact, just as recently as last September. “I support Medicare and Medicaid,” Pawlenty declared.

Regardless, the Wonk Room’s Igor Voskly notes that the opt out provision won’t lower costs like a stong public option will:

But a state-based approach won’t have the ability to significantly lower health care costs or change delivery patterns. Progressives point to existing state-based employee public options or Medicaid programs that contract out to private insurers and thus don’t provide a meaningful alternative or competition. A state triggered public option, would lead to the same outcome, they argue.

To avoid this scenario, the White House needs to stop sending clarification statements to Sargent and stake out a firm position — they will never find the votes if they don’t whip them. Why not start on higher negotiating ground and embrace the HELP bill’s (relativley) strong public plan.

Pawlenty’s not alone. Unfortunately, Democratic candidate for governor in Virginia, Creigh Deeds, said this week that that as governor, he would “certainly consider opting out” of the public option “if that were available to Virginia.”