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Weiner: Obama Admin. 'Half-Pregnant' with Health Industries

by Jordan Fabian

Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) said on Tuesday that the Obama administration is "half-pregnant" with health insurers and pharmaceutical companies, which may jeopardize the success of reform. 

Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) said on Tuesday that the Obama administration is "half-pregnant" with health insurers and pharmaceutical companies, which may jeopardize the success of reform. The congressman -- who is a leading liberal voice in the healthcare reform debate -- said that rumored deals the White House has struck with big pharmaceutical companies and insurers may guide them to abandon key elements of reform, such as a public health insurance option.

"The Obama administration is trying to be, I don't know how to put it, half-pregnant with the insurance industry and the pharmaceutical companies," he told WNYC Radio today. "They're to some degree the source of our problem."

The Energy and Commerce committee member also criticized the White House's effort to attract bipartisan support for healthcare reform, saying both efforts will water down provisions favored by liberals and turn the bill into a failure.

"I think the White House very much wants to have, even if it's just one person, the ability to say that this is a bipartisan outcome," Weiner said. "And my frustration is we are really as a party are flirting with the notion of minority rule here."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), and Senate Banking Committee chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) are currently drafting a final bill along with White House advisers. 

Individuals involved in the negotiations have indicated that a public option is still on the table to be included in a final bill. But some observers have indicated they may drop it because it may not attract a 60 senator majority need to break a potential filibuster. 

Yet, Weiner challenged his party leaders to include the option, saying that Democrats are "perilously close" to failing to pass a healthcare bill that would reduce costs and cover enough uninsured individuals. 

"Are we going to plow through this or are we going to keep worshiping at the altar of bipartisanship even when it only means essentially one Senator?"

The sixth-term lawmaker also called on his fellow Democratic lawmakers to stand behind a Democrat-only push to pass healthcare reform, saying that negotiations are now in a "post-Olympia Snowe period."

Though he favors a "strong" public option, Weiner made no secret of his support for a single-payer system under which the government would provide or pay for universal healthcare. 

"For me a strong public option is a compromise position from my advocacy for single payer," he said.
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