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White House backs away from public option in healthcare

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says a government-run insurance option is not essential to President Obama's healthcare goals.

August 17, 2009|Andrew Zajac

If Obama abandons the public insurance option, it would be at least the second time he's made major concessions to powerful stakeholders in the healthcare debate.

In June, the administration made a deal with the nation's main drug lobby, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA, which agreed to provide $80 billion in cost savings over 10 years and to promote healthcare reform in a multimillion-dollar ad campaign.

In return, the White House agreed to consider the $80 billion as a cap on PhRMA's costs in the overhaul legislation. In addition, the White House agreed not to require rebates on sales of commonly prescribed drugs to patients enrolled jointly in Medicaid and Medicare.

Business and conservative groups blasted the deal because it obligates PhRMA to support other elements of Obama's overhaul plan.

Liberals said Obama didn't drive a hard enough bargain with drug makers. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) said the House might not honor any deal with PhRMA.

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azajac@latimes.com

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