Bottom Line on Public Insurance Plan Gets Blurry

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- The White House won't say if President Barack Obama is still insisting on a government health insurance option as part of a health reform plan.

Political adviser David Axelrod says Obama isn't "walking away" from the public option. But he wouldn't say whether Obama would veto a bill that came to him without the option.

Axelrod told the Associated Press that Obama "believes it should be in the plan, and he expects it to be in the plan."

Obama is preparing for a Wednesday night speech to Congress, in an effort to salvage the health care reform effort.

His liberal supporters consider the public option a must-have, while Republicans say it's unacceptable. It's doubtful that the provision can pass the Senate.

Supporters of the public option say it would give workers and their families the secure benefits that older people now get through Medicare, while leaving medical decisions to doctors and patients.

Insurers, though, say they couldn't compete against the price-setting power of government. And employer groups say it would undermine the system of job-based coverage.

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