White House: Obama still believes in public option

An aide says the president will work with Congress to ensure affordable choices under healthcare reform


Mike Madden
September 30, 2009 2:25AM (UTC)

The White House isn't too concerned about the votes the Senate Finance Committee took Tuesday to block a public insurance option from being added to its version of healthcare reform legislation. A spokesman just sent over this reaction:

As the President said in his Joint Session address, health insurance reform legislation must provide more choice and competition in the health insurance market in order to drive down costs and provide affordable options to Americans who are uninsured or forced to shop in the expensive private or small group market. He believes making a public option available on the insurance exchange is a good way to achieve those goals. He has said he is open to other constructive ideas of increasing choice and competition. He will work with Congress to ensure that under health insurance reform, Americans who cannot find affordable coverage will always have a choice. 

While many progressives may be grumbling that this is just another sign the administration won't take sides in the public option fight, it seems like the most important line in the statement might be this one: "He believes making a public option available on the insurance exchange is a good way to achieve those goals." Why? Because if there was ever a convenient time for the White House to have ditched the public plan, the night that Democrats joined Republicans to vote it down might have been it. And yet, the administration says nothing has changed.

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Mike Madden

Mike Madden is Salon's Washington correspondent. A complete listing of his articles is here. Follow him on Twitter here.

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