NEW YORK (CNN) - A top Democratic senator touting the creation non-profit cooperatives for health care reform said the business model has been "very successful" and "would certainly contribute to holding down" soaring health costs.
But Sen. Kent Conrad of North Dakota told CNN's American Morning Tuesday that such a plan, floated as an alternative to public health insurance, wouldn't be the chief driver in decreasing health care costs.
"If you believe competition helps drive down costs, then they would certainly contribute to holding down costs," Conrad said, referring to cooperatives - which are not-for-profit membership-run health plans.
"I think it's very important not to overpromise here. The Congressional Budget Office tells us the big levers in terms of affecting cost lie elsewhere," Conrad said.
"The big levers are reforming the delivery system in this country to move to the kinds of integrated systems like Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic that work so well in holding down costs and delivering high quality care and other reforms - the insurance market reforms and changing the tax subsidy to health care. The experts tell us those are the big drivers in terms of altering costs," Conrad said.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Leaders of the liberal Congressional Progressive Caucus in the House sent a letter Monday to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, telling her "we stand in strong opposition to your statement that the public option is 'not the essential element' of comprehensive reform."
Responding to Sebelius' comments on CNN's State of the Union Sunday, the Democratic lawmakers warned that a health care bill without a public plan won't pass the House.
"Americans deserve reform that is real – not smoke and mirrors. We cannot rely solely on the insurance companies' good faith efforts to provide for our constituents," wrote Democratic Representatives Raul Grijalva D-Arizona, Lynn Woolsey D-California and Barbara Lee D-California.
"To take the public option off the table would be a grave error; passage in the House of Representatives depends upon inclusion of it."
Although the letter is only signed by the co-chairs of the congressional progressive caucus and the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, they also included a letter signed by 60 Democrats before Congress left for recess, which says a final proposal for the president's signature must contain a public option.
(CNN) - At least two Arizona men brought assault rifles to President Obama’s speech Monday to the annual Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Phoenix.
CNN’s Ed Henry reported that one of the men was carrying an AR-15 assault rifle and shouted anti-Obama slogans. The men remained outside the convention center where the president was speaking. Henry said U.S. Secret Service and local police were "very much aware" of the situation and were paying close attention to the men.
However, Arizona is an open-carry state, meaning it's legal to carry firearms in public as long as they are visible.
The CNN Washington Bureau’s morning speed read of the top stories making news from around the country and the world.
For the latest political news: www.CNNPolitics.com.
CNN: Obama aide says president still favors public health plan
The White House sought to reassure jittery supporters Monday that President Obama is not abandoning the fight for a public health insurance option.
CNN: Man carries assault rifle to Obama protest - and it's legal
A man toting an assault rifle was among a dozen protesters carrying weapons while demonstrating outside President Barack Obama's speech to veterans on Monday, but no laws were broken. It was the second instance in recent days in which unconcealed weapons have appeared near presidential events.
CNN: Economic stimulus for national parks working?
From Yellowstone National Park to the Everglades, America's 391 national parks are in need of repair - and thanks to the economic stimulus signed into law, help is now underway.
CNN: Blue Dog: 'Excellent idea' to start over on health care reform
Acknowledging his amazement at the crowds gathered to debate health care at his town halls, Rep. Allen Boyd, D-Florida, faced three large gatherings on Monday with many questioners voicing skepticism about the proposals being debated in Washington.
CNN: Pelosi: 'Strong support' for public option in House
As President Obama seemed to signal that a public insurance plan would not be a make-or-break issue for his health care proposal, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Monday there is still "strong support" among her colleagues for it to be included in the final bill.
CNN: Obama, Bill Clinton to meet at the White House Tuesday
Former President Clinton will meet with President Obama at the White House tomorrow afternoon for the first time since Clinton's trip to North Korea that secured the release of two jailed journalists Eung Lee and Laura Ling in early August.
CNN: Obama pledges increased support to war veterans
President Obama took a brief hiatus from his health care push on Monday, promising increased help for America's war veterans in dealing with life after combat.
CNN: Jenny Sanford on her husband: 'The ball is in his court'
For the first time in nearly two months, Jenny Sanford is opening up about the affair that turned her life upside down.