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Obama Will Back Public Option If Reid Does

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Adding to the building pressure this week from his Senate colleagues who have openly demanded a public option in the health care reform bill, comes the news that President Obama would support a government-run insurance plan if Harry Reid signs onto it.

From tonight's Rachel Maddow interview with Health & Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius:

Maddow: "The private insurance company writ large hasn't done a great job. That's why we want a public option to compete with them. These 18 Democratic senators want to bring that back into the fold. If that happened, would the administration fight for it?"

Sebelius: "Well, I think if it's... Certainly. If it's part of the decision of the Senate leadership to move forward, absolutely."

The onus is now really on the Majority Leader. As of earlier today, at least 17 senators had signed an open letter urging Reid to make the public option a necessary part of the final Senate bill.

This week has brought hopes of a public option back to life. After the first attempt at health-care reform late last year, the public option was all but killed as Reid and other Democratic leaders tried to pass a "bipartisan" bill by making changes to please the Republican senators from Maine (Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe). Interesting how the second go-around might really hold the possibility for more strident reform.

It will be intriguing, too, to see what political calculations Reid considers as he makes his next move. He faces a tough reelection landscape this November, and his home state of Nevada is one where the public option is not very popular. But he represents a party and an electorate that for the most part supports the government insurance plan.

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