I've ended back where many Americans are: in support of a public option, administered by the states, as a means to ensure that the working poor can afford insurance, while also restraining costs. And I see no reason why this couldn't come back into the final health insurance bill, especially if the option is left for the states to decide on. Baucus appears to be open to that federalist twist. The Post poll finds the following:
On the issue that has been perhaps the most pronounced flash point in the national debate, 57 percent of all Americans now favor a public insurance option, while 40 percent oppose it. Support has risen since mid-August, when a bare majority, 52 percent, said they favored it. (In a June Post-ABC poll, support was 62 percent.)
If a public plan were run by the states and available only to those who lack affordable private options, support for it jumps to 76 percent. Under those circumstances, even a majority of Republicans, 56 percent, would be in favor of it, about double their level of support without such a limitation.
I wouldn't put too much stock in the swing back. The point is that a clear majority has long supported a public option, alongside a mandate. Beutler explains the rationale behind Pelosi's current strategy - make the public option a plus for budget-worriers. If you can make the public option compatible with both federalism and fiscal conservatism, its logic is pretty powerful.