Sen. Sanders: ‘Very Reluctant to Support’ Health Reform Minus Public Option

Jun 24, 2009 2:29pm

ABC News’ Rick Klein reports: With debate on Capitol Hill centering on whether health care reform should include a “public option” that would compete with private insurers, the efforts to reach a bipartisan compromise in the Senate could have consequences on the left. On ABCNews.com’s “Top Line” today, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said he would be “very reluctant to support” a bill that doesn’t include a public option, since he believes any such measure would fail to deliver on the promise of universal health coverage. “Do I think it could work? No I don’t,” Sanders told us. “I think leaving it to the private health insurance companies that continue to rip off the American people will not bring down costs and will not be successful.” Sanders supports a national single-payer system for health care — a concept that President Obama has ruled out.  He indicated general support for President Obama’s reform efforts, citing a public option as critical to making it work. “I would like to see people have the freedom of choice, and the reason they’ll go into the public system is that the public system is not gonna be profiteering, the public system is not gonna have huge administrative costs, the public system is not gonna be taking 10 or 15 million dollars a year for CEO compensation,” Sanders said. “It will be able to deliver the product in a more cost effective way and that will bring people into it.” At his news conference yesterday, President Obama said he continues to support a public option as part of a health care reform package — but refused to rule out supporting a plan that doesn’t include one. “It’s too early to say that. Right now, I will say that our position is that a public plan makes sense,” Obama said. With leading Republicans saying a public option is unacceptable, negotiations are ongoing in the Senate to find a compromise. Watch the full interview with Sen. Bernie Sanders HERE.
We also spoke with Ana Marie Cox of Air America (who’s also filling in for Rachel Maddow on MSNBC Friday night) about the latest news involving Gov. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., and the health care debate. Watch the interview with Ana Marie Cox HERE.

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