Dean faults White House for death of the public insurance option

The administration is to blame for the public option's exclusion from healthcare legislation, former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said Monday.

"Yes," Dean flatly answered during an appearance on MSNBC when asked if the Obama administration was culpable for losing the public option.

Democratic leaders in the Senate removed the provision from their healthcare bill in a concession to win centrist Democrats' votes.

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But liberal activists and even Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) have begun to focus blame on President Barack Obama, faulting him for never having thrown the full weight of the White House behind the controversial insurance option.

"I’ve been fighting all year for a strong public option to compete with the insurance industry and bring healthcare spending down," Feingold said Sunday in a statement. "Unfortunately, the lack of support from the administration made keeping the public option in the bill an uphill struggle."

Dean has been locked in a public scrum with the Obama administration since calling earlier this month for senators to kill the healthcare bill without the public option or a plan allowing people ages 55-64 to buy into Medicare.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs suggested Dean was irrational for saying the health bill before the Senate didn't do enough to accomplish reform.