Senator zings W.H. on insurance exchanges

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) took a jab at the White House today, questioning their commitment to providing consumers with more choices under healthcare reform legislation.

In taking a shot at White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, the senator urged Democratic leaders to include in a final version in healthcare reform his amendment to expand access to insurance exchanges.

"Robert Gibbs talks about choice and competition about three times per hour and then we have a bill that leaves 90% of Americans outside the exchange market after seven years," Wyden said today on ABC's "Top Line."

Under current proposals, individuals with employer-based healthcare would not have access to insurances exchanges, which Wyden believes will increase consumer choice and provided more robust competition in the insurance market. He also proposed that employers offer their workers more than one insurance option.

The Senate Finance Committee member has pushed for the measure for months, so much so that Finance chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) had to do extra leg work join get Wyden to help vote his bill out of committee.

Wyden said that after having conversations with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Conn.), Senate Banking Committee chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), and Baucus, the proposal has its "foot in the door."

Critics had suggested the measure might destabilize the employer based market due to a max exodus of consumers. But Wyden said it would actually strengthen the market, citing a Congressional Budget Office study that said it would allow more employers to provide coverage.

Without the measure, Wyden said "a final bill is not going to have my support."