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Gibbs Says Obama Isn’t Backing Away From Public Option

The White House on Tuesday denied that comments by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius were meant to signal that President Barack Obama is backing away from a public insurance option.Obama’s position is “unchanged,— said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, who reiterated a previously stated position that the public insurance option is a preferred strategy but not a necessary precondition for Obama to accept a bill.Sebelius said Sunday that a public insurance option was not an “essential element— of health care overhaul.“We have a goal of fostering choice and competition in the private health insurance market,— Gibbs said. “The president prefers the public option as a way of doing that. If others have ideas, we’re willing to listen to those ideas — that’s what the president has said for months.—Gibbs repeatedly blamed news organizations for giving “outsized attention— to Sebelius’ remarks. “We don’t think there’s anything to clear up,— he said.Gibbs also said a White House effort to encourage people to provide examples of “misinformation— about health care reform has not ended but has instead been folded into a broader initiative to combat opposition to the Obama’s health care proposals. That information can now be provided to the “reality check— section of the White House Web site, Gibbs said.“To better understand what new misinformation is bubbling up online or in other venues, we want your suggestions about topics to address through the Reality Check site,— states a message posted Monday night on the White House Web site by White House Director of New Media Macon Phillips. “To consolidate the process, the e-mail address set up last week for this same purpose is now closed and all feedback should be sent through— an address on the “reality check— Web page, Phillips writes. “We also ask that you always refrain from submitting others’ information without permission.—

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