President Obama has given his stamp of approval on the new healthcare plan agreed upon by Democratic Senators. The support signals that it's a wrap on the idea of creating a government-run public insurance option--but the deal that the senators reached, which the President called "a creative new framework," is different from what we've heard before.
The legislation involves working within the structure of the healthcare system we already have. Medicare would be expanded so that the qualifying age is lowered from 65 to 55, and private insurance plans would be set up and negotiated by the federal office that controls members of Congress' health insurance.
"I support this effort, especially since it's aimed at increasing choice and competition and lowering cost," the President said yesterday during an address at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, where he signed a memorandum authorizing nearly $600 million in Recovery Act funds for 85 community health centers around the country. "With so much at stake, this is well worth all of our efforts."
So, the President's onboard with the public option compromise...but does he feel that he did everything he could to push specifically for a public option? Especially since that was his preferred measure for healthcare reform? I asked Robert Gibbs this question at the press briefing yesterday, and he said yeah, the President did all he could have done on that front.
"...And he's continued to meet with senators in order to make progress," Gibbs said, continuing that what's important is that progress is made in healthcare, rather than the exact form it takes. "Sometimes we focus on the twigs in the forest, not even the trees, to understand that we're likely one step closer to seeing comprehensive health care reform that we've had Presidents talk about for 70 years."
Well. A strong public option that would make private insurers operate more fairly, which the President and the Democrats said they wanted, is more than a twig in a forest. And I don't think the President pushed for it as powerfully as he could have, toning down his stance during the summer. But the new idea out of the Senate is what seems to have the elusive 60 votes needed for actual passage. What do you think?