August 17th, 2009
01:15 PM ET
13 years ago

Cafferty: Pres. Obama willing to retreat on health care?

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There are growing signs that President Obama may be willing to drop one of the key parts of his health care reform plan. If it happens, chalk up a big victory for the Republicans and the insurance companies.

After weeks of criticism against a proposed government-run insurance plan — and the increasingly rowdy town hall meetings — the president now says the public option for coverage is just a sliver of the overall proposal. But it's a big sliver — especially politically.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has gone further — saying a direct government role in the reformed system is "not the essential element." Sebelius says "what’s important is choice and competition." One option that may replace the idea of the government running health care is nonprofit health cooperatives that would compete with the private sector.

If the president decides to drop the "public option" it has the potential to both help and hurt him in the ongoing debate. Mr. Obama would take away some of the steam from the Republicans' cries of "a government takeover" of health care. It also leaves room for compromise and potentially getting some Republicans on board.

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