‘Public Option’ May Get Its Plug Pulled

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Judging by the commentary on yesterday’s morning news shows, momentum in Congress has swung against a health insurance “public option,” something Obama has favored as part of his health-care push, but has never insisted upon. “The public option, whether we have it or we don’t have it, is not the entirety of health-care reform,” the president himself told a Colorado town hall on Saturday, after vigorously defending such a plan. “This is just one sliver of it, one aspect of it.” Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius told CNN that the public option was “not the essential element,” and said the Obama administration was open to the idea of a nonprofit co-op plan that would be independent of the government and controlled by its members. Moving in that direction has its rewards, according to the Times — it would poke a big hole in GOP arguments against health-care reform (many fret that private insurers wouldn’t be able to compete with a government plan) and might even bring some Republicans onboard. Unfortunately, ditching the public plan runs the risk of losing some liberal Democrats, who are a driving force of the current reform movement. West Virginia senator John Rockefeller, for example, drew the line yesterday, labeling a strong public option “a must.”

‘Public Option’ in Health Plan May Be Dropped [NYT]