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When traveling in Europe while studying abroad in college, I would occasionally run into people in hostels who had a strange view of traveling. I would ask them where they had just arrived from, and they would reply something like, “Oh, we just did Budapest.” Anyone who said they had just “done” a city was hard-pressed to be able to tell me precisely what they had done, other than a pub crawl. Which was annoying, because I liked to find out about travel experiences from other travelers – what was worth the trip, what was nice enough but too crowded or expensive, etc. The “I just did…” response gave me zero information on how great or terrible destination was.

That’s the way this article left me after an initial giddiness about the CBO score of $600 billion over 10 years to cover 97% of Americans, including a government-run public health insurance plan. Sure, I’m glad to find out that leading Democrats on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee included a public option, glad that they had the CBO score the health care plan with the public option this time, and I’m elated that the CBO scored the bill as much cheaper than the incomplete plan submitted back in May. But I still feel like the reporter just “did” the public option.

From the article, all I know is that there’s potentially going to be a $60 billion a year government-run health insurance plan. I have no idea from the article whether a trigger will be put in place, a threshhold that will need to be crossed in order to activate the public option. I don’t know if the plan will be offered nationally or state-by-state. I don’t know if it will be accountable to Congress. I don’t know if it will be available to all Americans, or just those who can’t currently get coverage. All of these points would make a big difference in whether I would support such a bill or oppose it.

So I’m begging reporters to ask about what a public option would entail when you write about its inclusion in a health care reform bill. And fortunately, dear reader, we don’t need a reporter to help us find out where our Senators, at least, stand on these very important questions. Please ask Senators McCaskill and Bond for specific responses.

Do you support a public healthcare option as part of healthcare reform?

If so, do you support a public healthcare option that is available on day one?

Do you support a public healthcare option that is national, available everywhere, and accountable to Congress?

Do you support a public healthcare option that can bargain for rates from providers and big drug companies?

Still haven’t heard back from either Bond or McCaskill after two weeks of asking the question.