August 16th, 2009
12:48 PM ET
9 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. Randy

    Health Insurance Mafia are worst than Terrorists.

    Terrorist kills innocent with Guns.

    Health Insurance Mafia kills innocent by Health Care Deprivation.

    Health Insurance Mafia consists of Rich people like Madoff, who became Rich by Plunder, Embazzlement, Extortion.

    Health Insurance Mafia, pays Bribes to GOP.

    GOP supports Health Insurance Mafia, to oppose Obama's Plan.

    GOP consists of Criminals, Scoundrels, Rascals and Bastards.

    August 16, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  2. joe

    I do not understand how there can be so many interpretations of the points in this bill and that, in my opinion, is the most worrisome issue of all. Mr. Obama claims he will not ration, he will not dictate end of life care, he will not tap our bank accounts, but many reputable news services have in fact listed exact text from the document to the contrary. I believe once we let the government in, they will do what they want because the language is so vague. Therefore, with a bill that seems to have been rushed and a President which tried to bully it through the approval process in addition to language that leaves so much room for interpretation I can not understand how the public should support this bill and I believe it should NOT be passed.

    August 16, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  3. Robert New Concord, ohio

    We must have the public option and to insure it is fair to the private insurance companies we need it to be cost plus 10% profit to the Government. In my opinion that profit should go to help save either Medicare, Social Security or both. The other issue I think you have to have is either a public option for Doctors to get reasonable insurance rates and /or limit their liability if they make an honest mistake.

    August 16, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  4. Tell us something we havent known for years

    And we should believe Price?And why would that be?hahaha

    August 16, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  5. johnrj08

    Here's a great example of a Democrat who is going to let one element of a reform bill decide whether or not he can support health care reform and, in the process, endanger the likelihood that we will ever have health care reform in this country. This man is just as big of an idiot as the nut cases who are screaming "death panels" and "socialized medicine" in the town halls. Where do we find these morons to lead us? Come to think of it, we're the morons. Look at all the disinformation that so many of us bought lock, stock & barrel from the insurance industry and lunatic fringe of the GOP. How many people still think Sarah Palin was right when she claimed that the reform bill in Congress meant that the government was going to create death panels, despite the fact that the totally optional "end of life" counseling provisions were put there by Republicans and already existed in previous legislation? What a bunch of sad, stupid people we are. We get what we deserve.

    August 16, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  6. Tom in Delaware

    Well get used to it because it's dead......and if you keep dragging it around they're going to start filming the remake of "Weekend at Bernie's".

    The Trojan Horse has been shattered at the City Gates....Thank God.

    August 16, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  7. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    How foolish would it be for any Member of Congress to vote against a bill that will pass in order to hold out for one that won't? Some would call that "letting the impossible get in the way of the possible".

    August 16, 2009 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  8. Outraged DEM

    I never contributed to a election nor volunteered . . . but I did for Obama in 2008.
    If he and the other dems can't show some backbone and make some change, maybe it'll be Deans year in 2012. . . . lets see how that feels:

    DEAN 2012!!!

    not bad. . .

    August 16, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  9. Can't wait till 2012

    I love how you uniformed Obama sheep are stil blaming Republcans when the fact is that your coward in chief could get WHATEVER he wanted passed if all the Democrats went along, the problem the coward is running into is that some non-sheep Democrats are not towing the line with all his uh, uh, uh, uh non-specific big dreams.

    The real HEROES here are the Democrats, Republicans and independents that took the time to speak out at these town halls and I went as an independent to voice my concerns as well, not a mob, but people fed up with Pelosi, Reid and the fraud in chief and their lies and non-factual responses.

    Tort reform, the ability to buy insurance across state lines and NO public option are three REPUBLICAN/INDEPENDENT ideas that are GOOD, make the reform specific to what needs to be fixed as you don't tear down a whole house to fix a leak in your basement unless you are a nitwit lefty liberal like your "president" (no cap deserved).

    Work and listen to independents/moderates and some conservative ideas and keep the fringe elements of both sides out of it and we will get the needed MINOR refoms that we need.

    August 16, 2009 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  10. Buster

    Health insurance is not a civil right. How about everyone is forced to have catastrophic insurance, tort reform, and interstate competition for insurance companies??? The illegals can go back to their country for insurance.

    August 16, 2009 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  11. Scott

    Without a public option there will be no healthcare insurance reform passed. 1/2 of Congress will not support legislation without it. And President Obama will be a one term President. Good luck getting progressives and left of center independents to vote for him if he and the Democrats cave on this one.

    This is not universal healthcare, nor even single payer, such as what Canada has. Its a simple public option to provide some competition to help lower costs and gurantee coverage to those that can't afford it or are uninsured.

    If the President can't stand strong for this, then he'll face a strong primary challenge in 2011 for President.

    In the minds of most progressives, this is THE reason we voted for Obama and the Democrats. Next time, we'll vote for the new Progressive Party candidates.

    August 16, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  12. Lynne

    Gee, two Republicans and 1 Democrat...typical of John King...sort of like Wolf Blitzer having David Frum, a republican, on a socalled non partisan panel and Lou Dobbs, a socalled Independent, who spends his whole show bashing the President.

    August 16, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  13. Astroturf This

    There are proposals on both sides to provide insurance for those who don't have it without taking over the entire industry and changing the system that 90% of the people now are happy with. Problems in healthcare can be fixed without a government takeover. The 47 million is a false number. Once you take out the illegal immigrants and the young and healthy who don't want healthcare then you have about 15 million people who need insurance. There are 300 million people in this country. It makes no sense to bankrupt our entire economy and takeover the entire system for 15 million people. The healthcare bill as it stands now is just the nose under the tent for socialist systems and Americans are not going to approve of socialism.

    August 16, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  14. katiec

    The majority of the American people want public option.
    And, how could they not?? It will force the insurance companies to
    become competitive and eliminate their raping of the American
    people, both in costs and care, that has been going on for years.
    I most certainly would trust govenment more in being involved in
    health care than continue to leave our welfare up to big business.
    You need to read the contributions these so called blue "cross"
    politicians are getting from the medical related associations.
    Grassley alone has received over $2.6 MILLION! Of course he
    is going to sponsor anything that is in favor of his campaign
    We can no longer allow or tolerate big business, lobbyists, special interests and those who support them control, run our country
    and make crucial decisions on our welfare.

    August 16, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  15. Competition alternatives

    Liberal Democrats know the "public-option" was not really about competition and "ensuring a level playing field" rather the public-option was a first major step towards government-run, single payer healthcare.

    Healthcare reform should include free-market,but regulated capitalist solutions to lowering heathcare costs, such as cross-state insurance, more individual involvement in consuming medical services, elimination of government subsidies, etc..

    August 16, 2009 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  16. The Trouble With OBAMA....

    Obama's "TOWN-HALL-MEETINGS" wIth him its all about his
    message and it is all campaigning and not explaining the health
    care issue..How could he in the first place when the Democrats talk
    about this and that version...Not misinfromation is what angers

    August 16, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  17. Anonymous

    looks like the Dems are eating their bill...see ya Barry

    August 16, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  18. Darlene WMS

    I would like to reinforce: WITHOUT A PUBLIC OPTION the same people that are UNINSURED would still be UNINSURED. If private insurers wanted the uninsured to become insured we would have been. The private insurers only robbed peter (those insured) to pay paul (those uninsured) by increasing rates to cover those who are not able to pay. There must be a PUBLIC OPTION

    August 16, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  19. Dylan , Orange County CA

    We need the public option that 's the whole point of the legislation. The insurance companies won't give up profits first until they are forced to compete.

    If some of the insurance companies go out of business – tough luck. It is about time people get to have coverage at reasonable rates vs letting insurance executives deciding who gets to live or die.

    August 16, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  20. Hope

    We are waiting to vote out democrats who dont vote for public option in 2010, they have been warned.

    August 16, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  21. Darlene WMS

    There must be an in between entity that provides for those persons who are not able to do so on their own. It must be an entity large enough that would carry such a load. This way all bases are covered. Just because someone is covered today doesn't mean that they are guaranteed to be covered tomorrow, I don't care who you work for, nothing is certain.

    August 16, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  22. lron Man

    odrama must be watching the polls.

    August 16, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  23. Make or Break issue

    If Obama and his administration give in to the false arguments and fear mongering played by the Republican party about healthcare reform, especially, when the GOP is at its weakiest state – He will definitely lose my vote and support for re-election!

    August 16, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  24. 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 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
1 2 3