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Report: Obama to Outline Health Care Requirements — Without a Public Option

Politico’s Mike Allen and Jim Vandehei report that the Obama administration is preparing to roll out a new strategy to advance its health care reform goals, and the president may give a speech as early as next week outlining the essential elements of a health care bill. Not among them, according to Allen and Vandehei, is a public option, a government-run insurance plan to compete with private insurers — a preferred component of health care reform among liberals in Congress.

Aides to President Barack Obama are putting the final touches on a new strategy to help Democrats recover from a brutal August recess by specifying what Obama wants to see in a compromise health care deal and directly confronting other trouble spots, West Wing officials tell POLITICO.

Obama is considering detailing his health-care demands in a major speech as soon as next week, when Congress returns from the August recess. And although House leaders have said their members will demand the inclusion of a public insurance option, Obama has no plans to insist on it himself, the officials said. [...]

Obama’s willingness to forgo the public option is sure to anger his party’s liberal base. But some administration officials welcome a showdown with liberal lawmakers if they argue they would rather have no health care law than an incremental one. The confrontation would allow Obama to show he is willing to stare down his own party to get things done.

“We have been saying all along that the most important part of this debate is not the public option, but rather ensuring choice and competition,” an aide said. “There are lots of different ways to get there.”

Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) said Monday a health care bill lacking a “strong public option” would not pass the House. Last month, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) suggested the exclusion of a public option from a health care bill would cost as many as 100 votes in the lower chamber. On Monday, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) — one the Senate Finance Committee’s so-called “Gang of Six” senators negotiating a bipartisan compromise bill — said the public option is “not something on the table.”

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