August 16th, 2009
12:48 PM ET
5 years ago

TX Dem: Bill without public option 'would be very, very difficult'


WASHINGTON (CNN) –On the same day that a Cabinet member signaled the administration’s willingness to forego inclusion of a public health insurance option in the final version of health care reform legislation, a Texas Democrat who is also a registered nurse suggested that the public option might be a deal breaker for at least some House Democrats.

“It would be very, very difficult,” to support a bill that lacked a public health insurance option, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union, “because, without the public option, we’ll have the same number of people uninsured. If the insurance companies wanted to insure these people now, they’d be insured.

Johnson added that “an option that would give the private insurance companies a little competition” is “the only way” to be sure that insurance is available to low income people and people without employer-provided coverage.

Johnson also told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King that House Democrats have already expressed their desire for a public option to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and even suggested that Pelosi inform the White House that the absence of the public option could be a deal breaker for the House Democratic Caucus.

Georgia Republican Rep. Tom Price, a medical doctor, called “simply false.” the notion that there are only two choices – between government-provided insurance and private insurance. Instead, there is a “patient-centered way” of providing health insurance, “to put patients in charge.” Price also said Sunday that creating a public health insurance option will “crowd out” individuals from the private insurance market and into the government insurance option.


Filed under: Democrats • Health care • House • State of the Union
soundoff (61 Responses)
  1. Ask not what big business can do for you but what can you do for big business

    I have the solution to helath care reform allow the private insurance companies to continue charging huge premiums and have the government pay out all claims. This way those poor executives could continue their thankless task of creating millions of good paying jobs.

    August 16, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  2. Chuck Bortell

    One of the quotations within the article cites comments from Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson; to wit: "because without a public option, we'll have the same number of people uninsured. If the insurance companies wanted to insure these people now, they'd be insured." With all due respect, this palaver from the congressional representative is an example of the "red herrings", flawed reasoning and misguided focus prevalent within the entire debate about Health Insurance Reform. In retort, ..."the same number of people uninsured..." could become insured very quickly under existing government programs, or slight revisions thereto, such as Medicaid and special programs for children; if there were money to pay for the addition of the purported ~50 million to coverage. To paraphrase the representative's second sentence, if the government wanted to accept responsibility, and the financial obligation for the uninsured segment of the population, then that could be accomplished forthwith. In summary: the central issue is MONEY! What should health care cost? Whom, or which entities (e.g., government or private, et al) should determine the costs of the health care? And, most important, who is going to pay?

    August 16, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  3. GI Joe

    Opensecrets.org

    Go there and look at how much money our Politicians have taken from Insurance Company campaign contributions. That tells you WHO our politicians listen to.

    NOT US. Vote them out.

    August 16, 2009 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  4. D. Tree

    All we are asking for is access to the same choices our Senators get: we deserve to be able to choose private or public insurance, just like the rest of Congress does!

    August 16, 2009 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  5. joe mett

    Rep.Tom Price, who is preventing the private insurance market from organizing cooperatives? Where is this logic coming from? If the private insurance market needs government backed guarantees especially, financial ones, etc to operate then it is a government insurance option and let us call it what it is.

    The reason why there are no substantive non-profit insurance cooperatives is that they are not as viable as it seems now!!! So please let the critics spare us the double talk that non-profit insurance cooperatives can adequately fill the void in this current health insurance market. Remember AIG and the fact the federal government had to bail it out with $180 billion because the private insurance market could not bail it out.

    August 16, 2009 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  6. annie s

    Thank you for understanding that reform without a public option is not reform at all. Now, what do we have to do to get it done right?

    August 16, 2009 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  7. yuri

    The flip side of this coin of competition, is ignorin' the uninsured somewhat and forgin' ahead w/ republican way of handlin' it.

    August 16, 2009 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  8. Sandra, Atlanta

    John King you make me ashamed. I used to think you had independent thoughts.

    August 16, 2009 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  9. Amanda

    If my congressman doesn't support public option, I will no longer vote for him and no longer vote democrat.

    August 16, 2009 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  10. jeff

    all government employees and elected officials should be forced to be on this public option.They should also be forced to take the very least amount of coverage offered by this public option.
    Lets see if they would then vote for it

    August 16, 2009 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    no public option.............get used to it

    August 16, 2009 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  12. FD

    We are all tired of paying so much in taxes and I don't want anything else nationalized!

    August 16, 2009 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  13. Bedtime for Obonzo

    Good. Don't support it.

    August 16, 2009 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  14. cspurgeon

    You are absolutely right. Any thing wo a public option will just be robbing Medicare to gtreen up the insurance muggers.

    August 16, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  15. Mike O'Brien

    I would rather have an 'option', then no option at all. It would be like, being back at square one. No 'option' and no health care insurance. Options mean.., it's your 'choice'. Your money and your choice. Your decision.., not the federal government or a insurance company. Mike in Montana

    August 16, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  16. Nevada dude

    Someone needs to explain to me how a program that will insure 15% of the american population– a percentage that currently does not have health insurance– endangers the insurance coverage of the other 85%. if they currently have no impact on Insurance companies' profitablity, how would they impact them once covered by some other insurance porogram? if they are worried their current customer base would migrate over to this public option, guess what? THAT'S COMPETITION!!

    maybe everyone will benefit as insurance companies reduce costs in order to retain their market share. and they cant reduce service or they will lose their customers. so they have an incentive to make their business more efficient. what is wrong with that??

    August 16, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  17. mk

    why not
    Create a public option that only individuals can purchase. Give people a choice, they can pick their employee offered insurance or the employer can pay the employee the money the employer would have spent on the employees health care plan. That way, employers can't join the public plan so they won't be able to force employees on to it. And IF an individual or family wants to CHOOSE the pubic option over the employer sponsored option they get the same dollar benefit that all other employees get.

    August 16, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  18. Matthew 25:36

    Rep. Price needs to read the CBO report that clearly states the public option would not "crowd out" the system and predicts more Americans in private insurance, even with reasonable competition from a public option.

    Americans need real health care reforms this time to fix our broken system that currently denies coverage and causes most bankruptcies. That is no longer morally acceptable in our country.

    The status quo has got to go...Reforms Now.

    August 16, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  19. Eric Gasana

    I think all students deserves public health care. It might be a little easier for a working person to purchase a health insurance than a part time or full time students. Students face numerous problems including expensive tuition.

    August 16, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  20. mules filler

    Congress man Johnson is out of touch with the average voter who is dead set against a public option. Shame on you congressman!

    August 16, 2009 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  21. Chipster

    Without a public option, there is no reform. There is simply no point in passing legislation at all if there is no public option because those who cannot afford insurance now, will still not be able to afford health care. Co-ops won't provide affordable care. They will offer a slightly lower cost that most of the uninsured will not be able to purchase. A public option, based on income, is the only way to cover them. They are the ones who are costing us a fortune in emergency health care costs – that and the Bush policy of banning negotiations for lower prices for meds and services.

    August 16, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
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