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Obama says Public Option off the table before Health Care Summit

February 23, 2010

The Huffington Post is reporting that President Barack Obama, despite growing support in the Senate for the Public Option to be included in the Health Care plan, has decided to exclude it from the latest proposal from the White House.

“Obama’s decision not to push for the public option does not preclude it from being included. Indeed, any member of the Senate can introduce it as an amendment to a package moving through under the rules of reconciliation, a parliamentary process that precludes a filibuster.”

Some polling suggests that Americans still support a public option and many progressive Democrats would rather see the public option included even if the proposed legislation did not have bipartisan support.

However, one aspect of the health care debate that is being overlooked before Thursday’s “Health Care Summit,” is how much the health care industry is lobbying the government.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP), “health care-related companies and special interest groups spent more than $544 million on federal lobbying efforts — obliterating their previous high from the year before.”

The CRP also notes that the entities which have lobbied the most – “the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, AARP, Pfizer, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, the American Medical Association — all rank within the United States’ top 10 federal lobbying clients of 2009.” It should also be mentioned that the data for the first quarter of 2010 lobbying will not be in until mid-April, but as of last week the Democrats had received over $20 million from health care lobbyists compared to just over $13 million for Republicans.

Lastly, Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), which represents 17,000 physicians who support a Single Payer health care plan, sent a request to the White House to be invited to Thursday’s Summit. The White House declined their request.

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