Public Option a 'Must' for Health Care Reform: Key Dems

White House waffling worries progressives
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 18, 2009 1:21 AM CDT
Democratic Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia arrives for a news conference on Capitol Hill in June.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
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(Newser) – Leading advocates for health care reform are concerned about the Obama administration’s apparent willingness to drop a government-run insurance program from the package in order to ensure the support of the Senate, the Washington Post reports. Prominent Democratic senators have voiced support for the public option, with John Rockefeller describing it as a “must.” Progressive House Dems have threatened to withdraw their support if the public option is dropped.

AFL-CIO president John Sweeney said it was “the only way to force real competition on the insurance companies.” Responding to the criticism, a White House spokesman said the administration still supports a government insurance plan, but that it's just one of many tools to reform health care: “The goals are choice and competition,” said Robert Gibbs. Obama’s “preference is a public option. If there are other ideas, he's happy to look at them."