President Barack Obama said he is confident Congress will pass “a good health care bill,” as months of rancour over reforming the US health care system seemed to be easing, with the White House playing down an immediate role for a government insurance option.

At the same time, Mr. Obama was critical of Republican opponents who he said were trying to block an overhaul of the national heath care system for political gain.

“I believe that we will have enough votes to pass not just any health care bill, but a good health care bill that helps the American people, reduces costs, actually over the long-term controls our deficit. I’m confident that we’ve got that,” Obama said in an interview broadcast yesterday on CBS’ 60 Minutes. “There are those in the Republican Party who think the best thing to do is just to kill reform. That that will be good politics.”

Mr. Obama has retaken the offensive on his key domestic policy issue, most notably with a speech last week to both houses of Congress. And sought to turn down the heat over a government-run health insurance plan.

“The public option is only a means to that end and we should remain open to other ideas that accomplish our ultimate goal,” he said.

Mr. Obama is trying to push opposing lawmakers away from positions -- both left and right -- that were threatening stalemate.

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