August 16th, 2009
10:08 AM ET
7 years ago

Democratic senator: Public health insurance option dead

Demoractic Sen. Kent Conrad said Sunday that his party does not have the 60 votes necessary in the Senate to stop a filibuster of a health reform bill that includes a public insurance option.

Demoractic Sen. Kent Conrad said Sunday that his party does not have the 60 votes necessary in the Senate to stop a filibuster of a health reform bill that includes a public insurance option.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - A key Senate negotiator said Sunday that President Barack Obama should drop his push for a government-funded public health insurance option because the Senate will never pass it.

Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad of North Dakota said it was futile to continue to "chase that rabbit" due to the lack of 60 Senate votes needed to overcome a filibuster.

"The fact of the matter is there are not the votes in the United States Senate for a public option. There never have been," Conrad said on "FOX News Sunday."

Conrad is one of six Senate Finance Committee members - three Democrats and three Republicans - who are negotiating a compromise health-care bill that would be the only bipartisan proposal so far.

Three House bills and another Senate version have all been proposed by Democrats, and all contain provisions for a public health insurance option intended to compete against private insurers.

Republican opponents argue the public option is a step toward the government taking over the health care industry. Many Democrats argue that it would not have that effect.

Conrad has proposed creating non-profit health insurance cooperatives that could negotiate coverage as a collective for their members.

He said Sunday that such cooperatives would provide the competition sought by Obama and Democratic leaders to force private insurers to hold down costs and improve practices.

Obama continues to support a public insurance option but appears to have softened his position in recent weeks.

At a town hall meeting Saturday in Colorado, he said the issue is one of many that are critical to successfully overhauling the ailing health-care system. "All I'm saying is, though, that the public option, whether we have it or we don't have it, is not the entirety of health care reform," Obama said. "This is just one sliver of it."

On Sunday, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told CNN's "State of the Union" that a final health-care bill will meet Obama's requirements of affordable, accessible health coverage for all.

"There will be a competition to private insurers," she said. "You don't turn over the whole new marketplace to private insurance companies and trust them to do the right thing. We need some choices and we need some competition."

Updated: 11:38 a.m.

Full story

Related: Health care in America

Filed under: Health care • Kent Conrad • Popular Posts
soundoff (155 Responses)
  1. Pat Dunedin Fl

    Please step away from the table and put a Dem that elected
    Obama in the last election and the majority of People.
    After this , you may run as a republican like the rest of the
    losers. We had a election. Your views were not in the Spectrum!!!

    August 16, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  2. maverick

    I for one, would love to have a true nationalized health care system in place that worked for the benefit of all citizens of the US. Unfortunately, there are numerous problems with this...the biggest being

    The government in this country is corrupted. They care not for the citizens of this country, they are fed by greed and a system of under the table kick-backs bought the huge power brokers of the big corporations, banking elite, special interest groups like AIPAC, and a network of oligarchs at the top that have ruined our republic the the governance thereof. The partisan, dem vs rep, is a ruse. The whole system is rotten to the core. Until this mess is changed, I won't trust any administration with any act they propose, as it's sure to have corporate interests at heart and be another nail in the coffin to the average american.

    Until the corrupt political lobbying is stopped, the Federal Reserve banished, and a government that adheres to the constitution and the bill or rights is put in place, i for one won't trust anyone or anything that comes out of D.C....because the way things are now, it's like we're being governed by the mob.

    The true beneficiaries to OBAMA-CARE will no doubt be the middle-men. better known as the co Health Insurance Industry. Capitalism has been usurped by corporate fascism.

    August 16, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  3. Jeff

    The government promised 3 million jobs with the stimulus package – yet we continue to lose jobs. The government promised that $1B "cash for clunkers" would last until November, yet the money lasted less than a week. Government is clueless and incompetent. If they can't do something simple like cash for clunkers right, imagine how they will screw up healthcare. There is no "public option" for auto, home and life insurance and the system works well. Regulate the health insurers to make them treat folks more fairly – but the government option is the first step to rationing of health care. That must not be allowed to happen!

    August 16, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  4. Shirley

    The way to go is private not-for-profit healthcare.

    August 16, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  5. GI Joe

    Insurance Companies raising their rates and deductibles as we argue. Those increased premiums allow them to buy OUR representatives.


    August 16, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  6. Nam

    This would be a great day for America to stop the idea of health care agenda. People can not wait in line for months to get treatments even if they have money and choices as the government-run health care does to people in Britain and Canada. Do not dream of a day where everyone has the equal entitlement to health care, housing, and education. That would turn this country to socialism and communism. No one is too rich to survive the robbery that the government commit on them. No one will be motivated to produce wealth and pay all taxes to the government to support everyone else. Thinking that the government is your solution to bring you free money and service is simply to kill your American dream.

    I am myself from a communism country. It takes blood to escape one. It scares the heck out of me to see the thoughts of Obama and his administration. This is purely robbery. This is purely evil.


    August 16, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  7. ran

    What is in it for this senator to not have a non-profit public option in any bill?

    My guess is money coming in from the profit insurance companies.

    CNN investigate and report on all our elected officials who are getting money from the current health care system: Democrat or republican or Independent.

    August 16, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  8. They call me "Tater Salad"

    Find out who opposes this, expose them to the American people, and let us decide their fate come election time! Any politician in my state that votes against a public option Democrat or Republican, had better start looking for a new job, cause their day's are most certainly numbered!

    August 16, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  9. Joe, St. Louis, MO

    "No Public Option…

    …major insurrection…"

    You mean major "Un-American" insurrection? Now what would Pelosi have to say about that?

    August 16, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  10. Joan Lyon

    Any senator or representatives who does not support a public option should immediately give up his/her health insurance that is paid for by the American tax-paying public. I don't want to pay for them to have something that isn't available to the rest of us. They should go buy their own insurance in the individual market if they think it works so well.

    August 16, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  11. Mike McKee

    Well, there it is. The truth comes out. Obama is just a word for same thing different day. Let's wrap it up people. big biz wins again. I'll vote republican next time just to show what I think of liars. May as well have one liar in than another. What difference does it make? Can't beat the criminals, you may as well join them. Goodbye Oblama, Nice lie.

    August 16, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  12. Nam

    I strongly oppose the robbery committing by our government. I am a government contractor on health care, and I would make the heck lot of money if the pubic insurance option takes off. But it's purely evil to do that. One day the private insurance is killed, and you have only the government (funded by your tax dollars) run health care. The country is no way rich enough to cover everyone. The government-run health care will soon face problem with budget and the mass volume of beneficiaries, yes everyone in America with or without work. That day will come soon, and everyone has to get in line. To support everyone, everyone got to get in line no matter how much money you have and how hard you work to achieve your American dream. This is robbery. This is evil.

    August 16, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  13. Miriam Zapata

    So tell me again why we can't have both Obama's plan for public option and the co-op plan that Republicans are offering?

    I think both may be over my head, but more options seems like a better choice.

    Id wait in line for healthcare. As someone mentioned yesterday, we wait in line for a 2 minute rollercoaster. I think I can wait in line for a checkup on my health.

    August 16, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  14. MW Anderson

    Get the breakdown of opposition correct for a change: while we have 40+ percent of GOP-blind followers opposing ANY change, the OTHER opposition is in strong favor of a Single-payer approach. But what is never stated in the corporate-owned MSM is that a large percentage of those favoring a Single-payer program would settle for a public option as the best option currently available.

    So at the end of the day the primary point THAT NO ONE IS MAKING is that a strong majority of US citizens are for a public option, AT THE VERY LEAST.

    Co-ops will not offer significant competition to health insurers, and so far all we have from all aspects of the healthcare industry are promises that are in all likelihood completely empty.

    If there is no public option, there is essentially no reform of the US healthcare system, and this country–particularly small business interests–cannot afford a continuation fo the healthcare status quo.

    August 16, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  15. Public Option Essential

    The Public Option is our best bet to control insurance costs and get everyone covered(other than single payer). I wonder if we could simply extend Medicare to all. Either way, the Public Option will be a part of the bill because there is no other way to control costs and insure everyone. The Republicans have no ideas on how to do either. Nor do I think they want to do either. There are too many people in favor of a public option at this point for it not to be a part of the final bill. One more thing, they don't have the votes for a Co-op in the Senate either. Hang in there folks, it's still early. Although, if there is no public option we may have to form a third party.

    August 16, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  16. Nam

    America should go out of the house, get onto the streets, get into every neighborhood, go down to the city, and demonstrates against the public health insurance idea.

    America should go to Twitter and Facebook and generate millions of followers to go against the robbery the government is committing.

    America should stand up against the evil force of socialism to build the American dream for everyone.

    August 16, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  17. Mike McKee

    No such thing as a Democrat anymore. They're all Republican now. One party country, One ruler , and , that ruler is Big biz. I hope they all have a long bout with cancer. Congressmen should do the right thing. They should all sit around a big table and sip some Jim Jones koolaid. Oblama's going to give NASA some huge funding this year though, everyone will vote for that because, they're going to want to get to Mars as soon as possible now. It's not likely but, I hope this country revolts. Won't happen in my life time but, we need another revolution. Or, congress needs to go to Mars. I'll settle for the long bout with cancer though. Make them use their stellar insurance that we pay for, to the max. I'd like for them to get my money's worth. Good bye America! It's taken two hundred years but we are an official Oligarchy now. Let them eat, well, you know rest. I hate this new country, why don't they just call it Exxon? The United States of Exxon.

    August 16, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  18. mark thiel

    I find it incomprehensible that the American public would swallow the absurd notion that private insurers, whose entire motivation is profit, would be more concerned with our physical, mental and our financial
    health than the government, whom we elect. We don't elect CEO's. If our government is totally without honor (and as a fledgling anarchist I am open to this), then why do we continue to elect them year after year?
    Medicare for everyone! Not "a" public option, but rather "all" public option.

    August 16, 2009 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  19. Hope

    We need a third party that isn't bought, and have a spine! I do agree with Bill Clinton is saying "folks you stand to walk away from the table with nothing get something on the table!" How the hell does the minority party control this debate, and will succeed in getting the objective met. Let's see kill two birds with one stone, hm,,,the public option and the Obama Administration. If I had the money I would give this country the finger and leave!

    August 16, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  20. Mike McKee

    Smell the change people! Are ya mad yet? Gonna get off your butts and call your congressthief? Or your repriseditive? If Your not mad yet, your backbone's might flimsy. We own the government, not the congress. The tails wag'n the dog here, anyone notice that? Think ya might want to at least write a letter so they can pole the response? I know , I know, election here's no different than it is in Iran but, let's do it anyway.

    August 16, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  21. steve

    I'm a Democrat all my life. I have also been a public servent most of my life and also had been a manager for a number of years. I'm sorry to say to the Democratic Party, I'm dead set against Gov't running Healthcare.
    I have seen how these civil servants work. Sorry to say, MOST of them are lazy. As a manager I was extremely frustrated by the unions which seemed to be spending most of the time defending bad workers. Even some managers were the same. Why? they were frustrated as well and their experience told them they would be left the wolves if they try to straighten things up. So, they just take the route of least resistance. They just do the window dressing and don't make waves so much so that they
    became part of the problem. That is not to say I would support the Republicans who love to go to wars all the time. But when it comes to Healthcare, I swear that I'm against the gov't run program.

    August 16, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  22. eolufemi

    The democrats are a bunch of cowards. They have the majority and they are still cowtowing to republicans and special interest groups. It's so unfortunate that we live in a two-party system.

    August 16, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  23. BJC

    Even in the minority the repubs are calling the shots.

    What a stupid comment. The Republicans CAN"T stop anything in the Senate or Congress. Democrats have all the votes they need to pass ANY bill that comes before them. What don't you understand? Democrat President, Democrat Senate, Democrat Congress.
    Go back to you old saying "We Won, Get Over It" Okay you won, get over it and take responsibility!

    August 16, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  24. a olson

    fine lets not have a gov option, now watch the hospitals and emergency rooms go slowly bankrupt and when theres no more health care at all then maybe someone will wake up and smell the death around them. no govt option then there will nothing but health care for the rich.

    August 16, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
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