Aide: Obama won't demand public option

Oct. 19, 2009 at 3:34 AM
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 19 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama wants, but won't demand, a public insurance option as part of healthcare reform, a top White House adviser said Sunday.

"He's not demanding that it's in there; he thinks it's the best possible choice," Valerie Jarrett, a White House senior adviser, said during "Meet the Press."

"He's pushed for it, certainly, but he's also realistic to say we've got to look at all options."

Jarrett added that the bills crafted by Senate and House committees show that efforts to overhaul healthcare are gaining momentum. The Senate Finance Committee passed a bill Tuesday with the support of one Republican, Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine. Four other committees are considering healthcare-reform measures.

"There's an agreement on 90 percent of what we're trying to accomplish here," Jarrett said.

She said the president believes competition between public and private insurers would reduce costs.

Democratic Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., who also appeared on the program, agreed.

"The public option makes the most sense," Dodd said.

He said including the government-run public option would increase competition and, in turn, drive down costs.

"I haven't given up on this," he said. "I'm still confident, when we get to the floor and -- and you've got to make a choice between bringing down costs affecting the budget as well as increasing competition, then we have a good, good chance of including the public option in the bill."

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