Bowing to Republican pressure, President Barack Obama's administration signaled on Sunday it is ready to abandon the idea of giving Americans the option of government-run insurance as part of a new U.S. health care system.
Facing mounting opposition to the overhaul, administration officials left open the chance for a compromise with Republicans that would include health insurance cooperatives instead of a government-run plan. Such a concession would likely enrage his liberal supporters but could deliver Obama a much-needed win on a top domestic priority opposed by GOP lawmakers.
Officials from both political parties reached across the aisle in an effort to find compromises on proposals they left behind when they returned to their districts for an August recess. Obama had sought the government to run a health insurance organization to help cover the nation's almost 50 million uninsured, but he never made it a deal breaker in a broad set of ideas that has Republicans unified in opposition.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that government alternative to private health insurance is "not the essential element" of the administration's health care overhaul. The White House would be open to co-ops, she said, a sign that Democrats want a compromise so they can declare a victory.
"I think there will be a competitor to private insurers," Sebelius said. "That's really the essential part, is you don't turn over the whole new marketplace to private insurance companies and trust them to do the right thing." (continues)