Tonight, ABC News will host “Prescription for America,” a discussion with President Obama about his plans to reform the health care system. Critics have charged that Obama’s proposal to enact a new public health insurance plan to compete directly with private insurers would lead to a “government takeover” of the health care system. During yesterday’s White House news conference, Obama defended the plan, but stopped short of calling it “non-negotiable.” “If private insurers say that the marketplace provides the best quality health care, if they tell us that they’re offering a good deal, then why is it that the government, which they say can’t run anything, suddenly is going to drive them out of business? That’s not logical,” the President said. Progressives have long argued that a public health insurance option is essential to controlling skyrocketing health care costs and expanding the choice of coverage. Moreover, a recent CBS News/New York Times poll found that “a clear majority of Americans — 72 percent — support a government-sponsored health care plan to compete with private insurers.” The Tri-Committee health care reform legislation in the House includes a robust public option and the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee bill is expected to include a similar provision. Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) have started Citizens for a REAL Health Care Reform and a Public Option, a petition in support of a public health insurance plan. But while a public option is certainly an essential element of health care reform, any overhaul of the health care system must also include a host of other progressive reforms, including robust affordability standards, shared responsibility principles, and payment reform.