WASHINGTON (CNN) – As Al Franken became poised to claim the 60th Democratic seat in the Senate on Tuesday, President Obama reached out in a phone call to Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe, a key member of the Senate Finance Committee whose vote could be decisive in passing the president's health care reform package.
Snowe is considered a moderate Republican and could serve as the 60th senator to support the president's proposal, since a handful of Democrats have expressed skepticism of the so-called "public option" to compete with private health insurance companies. Snowe told the AP Monday she would support a government-run plan only if private insurers failed to deliver affordable coverage first.
According to Snowe's office, Obama "expressed his desire to work with" the senator and solicited her input on health care reform.
"I reaffirmed to the President my commitment to ensuring the Finance Committee creates the best possible package to guarantee health security for all Americans," Snowe said in a statement.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the White House is not talking about any other calls President Obama may have made today regarding health care legislation.
Sen. Snowe's full statement after the jump.
"Today, President Obama reiterated to me that reforming the nation's health care system is his highest priority, and that he continues to be open to suggestions and ideas as the Finance Committee crafts this vital legislation.? As health reform would affect all Americans, I appreciate his understanding of the critical importance of producing a bipartisan bill with the broadest possible support, and his willingness to work together to achieve this watershed endeavor.? The President repeated his goal of passing legislation in the full Senate prior to the August break that would be deficit-neutral while providing universal coverage - and I reaffirmed to the President my commitment to ensuring the Finance Committee creates the best possible package to guarantee health security for all Americans."
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