[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/06/08/art.royblunt0608.gi.jpg caption="Missouri Republican Rep. Roy Blunt spoke out Monday against the public health insurance option that Democrats are advocating for as part of their health care reform proposal."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Missouri GOP Rep. Roy Blunt, who is heading up health care efforts in the House, said today he has made it clear to Democratic leaders that pushing for a public option in health care legislation is a non-starter for House Republicans. "That is a problem that is virtually insurmountable because we just don't think that it leads to real competition," Blunt said Monday.
President Obama sent a letter to Republican leaders last week responding to their plea that the GOP be included as a healthcare bill is developed. Blunt noted that the letter doesn't disclose any details, but makes it clear the president wants a bill passed by the House by August 1.
Blunt called that date an "artificial deadline" and said "we can't be part of the discussion if you won't let us in the room." House Republicans plan to unveil their own alternative healthcare legislation in the coming weeks and Blunt pledged that it will cost substantially less than the Democratic proposals.