- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 7, 2009

President Obama’s senior adviser on Sunday said he is confident Congress will pass sweeping health care reform legislation this summer.

“I really do,” David Axelrod told CBS’ “Face the Nation” program. “I think there’s a sense of urgency about health care reform … there is a consensus that something has to be done.”

The president has made expanding health care coverage one of his top priorities for this year, though his push for a Medicare-style public insurance plan to compete with private insurers has faced strong resistance from Republicans on Capitol Hill.

Mr. Axelrod said he has been encouraged by recent comments by Senate Finance Committee ranking Republican Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa suggesting that a bipartisan deal could be hammered out.

“I think we’ll be able to build bipartisan support for it, but we have to move forward with it,” he said. “I think it is a critical situation for the country and our economy and our future.”

The administration is intent on avoiding the mistakes that doomed President Bill Clinton’s attempt at health care reform, and one key goal is to let Congress play a greater role in drafting legislation as opposed to the 1993 versions, which was penned in large part from the White House.

Mr. Axelrod, while appearing Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” program, said the president told Senate Democrats recently that he is open to suggestions on health care reform and that “everybody ought to put their ideas on the table. I’m not foreclosing anything.”

He added that the administration has been encouraged by cooperation it has received from big business and health care industry trade groups — a sharp contrast from 1993.

“You see coalitions of broad recognition for change, so I do think it will happen this summer,” Mr. Axelrod said.

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