GOP Senator Seeks to Require Congress to Join Potential Health Reform Public Plan

Sen. Tom Coburn, a fierce opponent of a public option for health care reform, has introduced an amendment requiring all lawmakers to enroll in the plan if it is included in a final bill that is passed.

"So that we feel the same effects of that plan as every other American that ends up in it and the data shows that a 104 million Americans are going to end up in that plan, so what's good for us ought to be good for everybody else," the Oklahoma Republican and doctor said.

While the amendment evokes the old goose and gander adage, some Democrats are crying "fowl."

They say the premise of the amendment is flawed because it suggests that the public option will be the only plan available.

"Members of Congress will very likely be in the same situation as every other American will be vis-à-vis the public option," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said. "They can choose it, or they can not choose it. So the idea that members of Congress would be forced into it disrupts the whole notion that underlies it -- that this is a choice."

Other Democrats, including Sens. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., and Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., support Coburn's amendment. They joined most Republicans and passed the amendment out of the Senate Health committee.

But that version ultimately will have to be merged with another committee's bill and political analysts say Coburn's amendment may not survive.

"If I had to make a guess, I'd say that they will try to create a requirement to be in a public plan with a number of loopholes that would enable most senators to avoid the requirement," said Michael Franc of the Heritage Foundation.

Sen. Judd Gregg was the only Republican on the Senate Health committee who voted against the Coburn amendment. Coburn says Gregg told him he wouldn't put anyone in a public plan. Not his constituents, not his fellow senators.

Still, the idea seems to have the support of President Obama.

"You know I would be happy to abide by the same benefit package," Obama said. "I'm going to be honest with you; I'm the president of the United States so I've got a doctor following me every minute," he said, drawing laughter.