CBO GIVES PUBLIC OPTION THE A-OK…. Just as the Senate Finance Committee concludes that a public option in health care reform deserves to be scuttled, the Congressional Budget Office concludes that the principal argument against a public option is wrong.

Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives pounced on a congressional budget analysis to bolster their plan for a government-run health insurance option on Monday, as party leaders said they were closer to agreement on healthcare reform.

The report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said the public option proposed by Democrats would not drive private insurers out of business and most people would still choose to get their medical coverage through employers.

Republicans have been citing a Lewin Group study that found that as many as 103 million Americans would move to a public option over the next decade. The Lewin Group, however, is part of a larger group owned by an insurance company. The CBO, meanwhile, responding to questions from Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), found that the number would likely be between 10 million and 11 million.

Speaker Pelosi was, not surprisingly, pleased, telling reporters, “The CBO has … disputed claims made by the Republicans about what our legislation will do.”

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer added, “Now we’ve heard that the reform will represent a government takeover of health care. A point of fact: The opposite is true.”

Whether this will make any difference remains to be seen — support for the CBO’s conclusions seems to be a little selective — but it’s one more angle to consider going forward. At a minimum, the analysis of the public option is a bit of good news for Democratic reform efforts at a good time in the process.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.