The Chicago Tribune reports:
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President Barack Obama has long advocated a so-called public option, while at the same time repeatedly expressing openness to other ways to offer consumers a potentially more affordable alternative to health plans sold by private insurers.
But now, senior administration officials are holding private meetings almost daily at the Capitol with senior Democratic staff to discuss ways to include a version of the public plan in the health care bill that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., plans to bring to the Senate floor later this month, according to senior Democratic congressional aides. ...
Full story here.
The White House initiative, unfolding largely out of public view, follows months in which the president appeared to defer to senior lawmakers on Capitol Hill as they labored to put together gargantuan health care bills.
It also marks a critical test of Obama's command of the inside game in Washington in which deals are struck behind closed doors and wavering lawmakers are cajoled and pressured into supporting major legislation.
"The challenge is to go to the (Senate) floor, hold the deal," said Steve Elmendorf, a lobbyist who was chief of staff to former House Democratic leader Dick Gephardt. But "they are more involved than people think. They have a plan and a strategy, and they know what they want to get and they work with people to get it."