The Democrats couldn't even get a majority of their own party on board to support a public option
What you mean is actually "The Democrats couldn't even get a majority on board to support a public option". If the senate was all Democrats, they could have passed it easily, but the Republicans wouldn't even come to the table. The whole health care concept even came out of a Republican think tank.
What ideas did the Republicans want again?
Remember Darwin; building a better mousetrap merely results in smarter mice.