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Obama Reaffirms Support for Public Plan

Updated: 1:32 p.m.The White House on Tuesday appeared to be walking back comments made by Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel suggesting President Barack Obama is flexible on whether to have a government insurance option as part of health reform.“I am pleased by the progress we’re making on health care reform and still believe, as I’ve said before, that one of the best ways to bring down costs, provide more choices, and assure quality is a public option that will force the insurance companies to compete and keep them honest,— Obama said in a statement. “I look forward to a final product that achieves these very important goals.—The unusual statement reaffirming a well-known Obama position came on the heels of comments by Emanuel, published in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal, which suggested that finding ways to increase accountability among private insurers was more important than having a government option.“The goal is to have a means and a mechanism to keep the private insurers honest,— Emanuel said in an interview with the newspaper. “The goal is non-negotiable; the path is— negotiable.House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) signaled room for compromise on Tuesday, telling reporters at his weekly roundtable that Obama and House and Senate leaders “have all said that they believe that an option which ensures that the competition will be fair, that the cost will come down, and that Americans have availability of options are necessary if you’re going to have effective health care reform.—“There are different views of how you accomplish that objective,— Hoyer said. “I think that will be discussed over the next three months.—

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