Obama Mum On Whether Public Insurance Option Is Non-Negotiable

Asked about health reform at his press conference moments ago, President Obama declined to draw a line in the sand on the issue of a public insurance option.

The non-negotiable criteria, he said, are that reform should drive down costs and cover the un- and underinsured. He declined, though, to put the public option in this category, saying that he feels strongly about certain provisions and will take those concerns up with members of Congress individually.We’ll have video up shortly, but despite refusing to insist on the public option, Obama was as combative as I’ve seen him on the greater issue of reform. He dismissed the idea that the public option would drive insurance companies out of business, noting that the argument is usually articulated by free marketers who contend that the private sector always outperforms the government. And he made sure to note, citing recent polls, that public opinion is on his side.

Late update:

Here’s the video from the press conference.

Related: It’s not exactly news that health insurance companies oppose the public option, but on Friday, their lobby tried to make the very argument Obama shot down today in a letter to Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA).