Analysts: GJ Town Hall Meeting sees shift in presidential health care push

By: NBC News Email
By: NBC News Email

In this make or break month for health care reform we're hearing that a government alternative to private coverage might not be a make or break part of The White House’s push.

The heath care debate in the United States has shifted.

On Fox News Sunday, a key democratic senate negotiator said the president should drop his push for a government-funded, or public, health care option because it will never pass in the Senate.

“The fact of the matter is there are not the votes in the United States Senate for the public option. There never have been. So to continue to chase that rabbit, I think, is just a wasted effort,” says Senator Kent Conrad.

He’s one of six senate finance committee members working on a bipartisan proposal.

The 'Gang of 6' is considering a plan to create non-profit cooperatives that Conrad says would create competition.

The government would put up initial funding, but would have no other role.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says a public option is no essential and is waiting to see what the Senate Finance Committee negotiates.

“They've been more focused on a co–op, not–for–profit co–op as a competitor as opposed to a straight government–run program. And I think what's important is choice and competition,” she says.

President Barack Obama seemed to ease off his drive for a public option this weekend at a Town Hall Meeting in Grand Junction.

“The public option, whether we have it or we don't have it is not the entirety of health care reform. This is just one sliver of it, one aspect of it,” he said during his speech.

At least one Senate Republican has called the co-op idea ‘a step in the right direction.’

Sen. Richard Shelby says the Obama Administration has “read from the tea leaves” from Town Hall Meetings across the country.

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