After Meeting With “Gang Of Six” White House Says It Would Be Open To Co-ops

The White House was pretty mum after President Obama’s meeting yesterday with the “Gang of Six” bipartisan health care negotiators on the Senate Finance Committee. But the first words leaking out won’t please health care reformers.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Nancy-Ann DeParle, director of the White House Office of Health Reform says Obama would sign off on a privately run co-operative system, in lieu of a public option, if it increased competition in the insurance market.

“We would be interested in that,” DeParle said.

In the past, Obama’s suggested that he has no theoretical objection to the co-op structure, as long as it serves as a mechanism for keeping insurance companies honest, just as a public option would. But DeParle’s new rubric appears to be much less stringent. And coming as it does a day after Obama met with the bipartisan group that may determine the fate of health care reform, proponents of the public option may have reason to worry.