After months of quarreling with Republicans over health care reform, White House Democrats may be ready to compromise. This weekend, President Barack Obama suggested that he would consider a proposal for reform that did not involve a public plan. “The public option, whether we have it or we don’t have it, is not the entirety of health care reform,” Obama explained at a Saturday town-hall meeting. “This is just one sliver of it, one aspect of it.” Given President Obama’s aggressive advocacy of a public option, the change is striking. But even Senate Democrats recognize that the choice is to budge now—or risk losing even more support. “The fact of the matter is, there are not the votes in the United States Senate for the public option,” said Democratic Senator Kent Conrad, of North Dakota. “There never have been. So to continue to chase that rabbit, I think, is just a wasted effort.” The Senate is now considering a private alternative to a government-run program: a non-profit co-op that would compete with existing insurers.