"We have insurance markets that are dominated by just one insurance company. And for those that are in the private insurance market or seeking small business insurance through the private insurance market, there's nobody to compete with one health care insurance company that dominates that market. There's no choice, there's no competition," Gibbs said on CBS' "The Early Show" Wednesday.
Gibbs said the president's goal was to speak "clearly and directly to the American people about what is in this bill for them" – an important task since a CBS News poll finds that most people still don't know what his plan would mean for them.
Gibbs insisted that the public option is supported by the majority of Americans, but stopped short of saying it was a dealbreaker.
"Again, what the president is going to look for, is does the legislation that he thinks will get to his desk this year to reform a health care system, does that bill provide adequate choice and competition for millions of Americans who are looking for private health insurance on the private insurance market? We can't have health care reform if an insurance market is dominated by just one company."
Appearing later on "The Early Show," Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele said he thought the public option was socialist and argued that there are ways to insure more Americans without having to "to upend the entire system."