Transcript: Axelrod

AXELROD: Well, we'll see what Congress -- we'll see what Congress does. One thing we ought to do, the House bill has in it provisions that -- that says that if they fall below a certain level of return of these medical loss ratios -- in other words, the amount of money that they spend on actual health care, that they -- they need to rebate some of that money to consumers. That seems like a good idea.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But the president wants to throw out this idea of taking away the antitrust exemption, but not willing to say today that he would sign it if Congress passes it?

AXELROD: Well, let's see how that -- let's see how that -- that goes.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's go on to something else. You also saw in advance in this week in the Senate Finance Committee Olympia Snowe, the first Republican to vote for the legislation, and that -- that created some -- I wouldn't call it a backlash, but some grumbling among some Democrats, including Congressman Raul Grijalva in the House. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. RAUL M. GRIJALVA, D-ARIZ.: I think it is a waste of time for the White House and to some extent for leadership to continue to cater to one vote.

(UNKNOWN): We can't sort of hedge and say, "What's Olympia going to do?" We've got to decide what we want.


STEPHANOPOULOS: They're saying, particularly on this question of the public health insurance option, the president should listen to the majority of Democrats who want a public option, not this single Republican vote who doesn't.

AXELROD: Look, the president has very consistently and clearly articulated his support for a public option. He thinks that having competition within the health care system is healthy. There are some markets where one insurance company can dominate 90 percent of the market. We see that in some states. So he supports that.

But -- but that doesn't mean that we -- we halt the process. There are people in the Senate -- Republicans and Democrats -- who have objections to that. We have to work through these issues, and we're going to do that. The important thing is to create... STEPHANOPOULOS: But someone is going to have to blink, aren't they?

AXELROD: The important thing is to create a situation for consumers in which they have choice, there's competition, they get the best deal, and that's what we're after.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Who's going to win this fight, the House Democrats or Olympia Snowe?

AXELROD: Well, we'll see. I think that we -- here's what I believe, George. I believe that there is a fundamental belief on the Hill at this time that we can't fail now, that we've come this far, the country wants us to act, this is a problem that we've -- that's lingered for too long, and we're going to solve it.

And I think that will will overcome these differences. There will be compromise. There will be legislation, and it will achieve our -- our goals, helping people who have insurance get more security, more accountability for the insurance industry, helping people who don't have insurance get insurance they can afford, and lowering the overall cost of the system.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But you can't say today that the final bill that the president will sign must include a public option, as called for by House Democrats?

AXELROD: I think the final bill will achieve those goals, and a public option would help in that regard.

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