THANK YOU, AHIP…. The front page of the Washington Post tells readers, “Prognosis improves for public insurance; Momentum shift is dramatic.” It seems like “dramatic” is the right word, given that the public option seemed like quite a long-shot up until quite recently.

And what’s behind the “momentum shift”? It seems, this week, a key turning point was Wednesday’s meeting between Reid, Baucus, Dodd, and White House officials, when the leadership reportedly decided to go ahead and pursue a public option.

But let’s not overlook the role of America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP). The insurance lobby published a deceptive report on health care premiums two weeks ago, and the WaPo report today suggests it quickly changed the policy landscape.

Reid’s original inclination was to leave the public option out of a final bill he is writing from measures passed by the finance and health committees. But his liberal colleagues began urging him two weeks ago to reconsider, after insurance industry forecasts that premiums would rise sharply under the Finance Committee bill, which lacked a public option. The report had the effect of prodding Democrats to look for better ways to control costs, and the public option — strongly opposed by the insurance industry — reemerged as a possible solution.

Because a government-run plan would be dedicated to holding down costs and would lack a profit motive, congressional budget analysts predict that it could reduce the cost of expanding coverage to people who don’t have it by as much as $100 billion over the next decade.

Thank you, AHIP, for rescuing the public option.

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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.