August 17th, 2009
10:59 AM ET
5 years ago

Health care debate focuses on public insurance option

 President Obama has been pushing his health care reform plan at town hall meetings.
President Obama has been pushing his health care reform plan at town hall meetings.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – After weeks of battles over aspects of President Obama's proposed health care reforms, the debate focused Monday on one central issue: whether the U.S. government will offer a public insurance option.

The administration stepped back from its insistence on such an option over the weekend, with Obama saying it is "not the entirety of health care reform."

His spokesman, Robert Gibbs, said the president could be "satisfied" without it. And Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told CNN's "State of the Union" that a public insurance plan is "not the essential element."

The move seemed to be a concession to critics, particularly Republican lawmakers who have assailed the idea of the government playing that kind of role. Yet it also stirred up frustration from those on the left who believe such an option is critical.

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Filed under: Congress • Health care • President Obama
soundoff (124 Responses)
  1. T Mckinley

    I wonder how long it's going to be until the tea party and town hall protesters, who want our President to fail, are going to start denouncing Lyndon Johnson and Abraham Lincoln, and start calling for a repeal of both the Civil Rights Act and the Emancipation Proclaimation?

    August 17, 2009 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  2. Juile-NY

    18,000,000 of 45,000,000 whom have not had medical insurance are illegal immigrants who never paid taxes in USA. My family were used to living in New York City. I should see easily illegal young people who took three or four children in subway and anywhere in Queens, Manhattan, Brooklyn, in NY City. Most generous American noticed how
    illegal women can take advantagies from Government whenever they are pregnant. They just walk in hospital. That's all.
    My husband and I wanted to have one more child, but our very tight budget says 'NO and NEVER". Even though we, both have worked hard everyday because of a high property taxes, income taxes, taxes........... Thus, we are going to e-mail our strong msg. AGAINST
    OBAMA'S HEALTH CARE REFORM to two Senators and Congressmen in New York States.

    PLEASE FAIR N BALANCE POLICY BETWEEN TAXES PAYERS IN MIDDLE CLASS AND ILLEGAL PEOPLE WITHOUT PAYING ANY TAXES.

    August 17, 2009 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  3. Ohio river gal

    I support public option.

    Not a freeloader (already have excellent health insurance), but a CHRISTIAN.

    willing to pay taxes for it.

    August 17, 2009 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  4. Disillusioned Repub.

    How quickly we for WHO got us where we are now !!!! The ULTRA Cons of our party "spent and spun" us all to where we are now. -- It wasn`t Obama. I`m going to give him a chance. It sounds like without some real "balls" in Congress, we are going to soon be able to "shop around" for our health care just like we "shop around" for auto insurance. WOW !!!!! What a concept ! Shopping around for health insurance !!!! This ought to scare the health ins. companies silly- Sounds like business as usual and the congressmen and women hit the jackpot $$$$$$$$$. We have the best Congress money can buy.

    August 17, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  5. Aunt Bea and Opie

    Its not hard to spot the Paid Street Teamers and Corporate Fascists on here,even though they use a multitude of names in hopes of making us think their numbers are greater than they are.hahaha

    August 17, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  6. Obama 2.0

    Solution: Public option with a mandatory net profit that is resonable, say 10%. The profits would go towards paying deficits left by the Bush admin. And the profit would allow for Insurance companies to compete and make a profit without killing us on price. This and allowing the Insurance companies sell across state lines, national like the public option would. Problem solved ;)

    August 17, 2009 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  7. Randolph Carter

    Calling it "the president's healthcare plan" is something of a misnomer. I'd call it congress' plan at this point. It is not the president's job to write legislation, so Obama did the right thing by telling congress that we need healthcare reform, he wants to see this and that, now go write a bill I can sign. As usual, congress has taken a well intentioned concept and twisted it to serve special interests. What we will wind up with is a windfall for the insurance industry, much like W's medicare drug plan was to the pharmaceutical industry. Have a nice day!

    August 17, 2009 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  8. Alice

    WE PAY INTO MEDICARE ALL OUR WORKING LIVES! It is NOT a government handout. I guess some of you posters have never worked a day in your life, and so you dont know that! Oh, and tell me again why I should work so YOU can have health care????????

    August 17, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  9. Pepou

    With democrats like we have who needs Republicans. It is a shame, a real shame and a disaster for this country's future is the public option is left out. I don't care about bipartisanship. Let's be true to our principles and stand by them for a change !!!!

    August 17, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  10. Marty, Grand Rapids MI

    This is sad. 62% of American's support a public option yet we can't get one? Insurance companies spend 78 cents on the dollar on health care vs 90 cents on the dollar for non profit insurance companies vs 97 cents on the dollar for medicare. The public option would provide competition to the private market and force their spending on health care to increase. There is no competition now and coops are not the answer. They have never been proven in any country. Public options have been and have been very successful for other countries.

    Force a vote for the public plan. Lets see what Democrats fall out and then lets pass it via reconciliation.

    August 17, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  11. Michigan

    Forget the health care legislation, it's dead. Shelve it and move on, and let another president deal with it in another ten years or so. This chance is over.

    August 17, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  12. ran

    "Give me non-profit or give me death."

    I will go to jail before I give a penny to a for profit insurance company.

    My health is not for profit now or ever.

    August 17, 2009 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  13. The Constitution in the hands of an ignoramus....worse than a loaded pistol

    The pen, the sword?.....we saw at he beginning of the millenium a new reality....all have bowed to the pill. Neither armies nor oil companies will feed humanity the way the pharmecutical hands of the insurance head have. Kneel Kings Colonels and Presidents, all kneel, to the providers of the pill.
    (original feel free to use)

    The coiled snake at the bottom of this rabbit hole.......the most profitable industry in the world......Pharmecutical Companies, which are controlled by the insurance industry......Theyre like Bush and Cheney, One is quietly controlled by the other.

    by the way insurance profits, become securitized loans......can you connect the dots America?

    August 17, 2009 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  14. D. Tree

    The Public Option is already tested and proven – our Senators and Federal Employees seem to like their options.

    Making the same insurance choices our Senators get available to the rest of Americans makes sense.

    The Public Option sure makes more sense than this experimental "Co-op" thing.

    August 17, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  15. Tom in Delaware

    The 'Public Option' is the remake of "Weekend at Bernie's"....it's dead.

    It's deader than dead, it's a stinking rotting corpse that's being dragged around to these Town Halls.

    Not one single poll, even the most Liberal one supports it, so it's time for the Obama-bots to shut up now....You Lost.

    August 17, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  16. jeff

    We are talking about our health here, not a consumer good. Would you rather have a government option whose primary focus is healthcare, or do you want a private insurance company whose primary focus is PROFIT. This is a simple question. Healthcare should be a right for every American, not an option. No American should be refused healthcare. I understand that we live in a free market and a government program could run cheaper than any for-profit insurance company, but we are talking about the health of all Americans. Next, are we going to privatize the police/fire? Sorry you live in a high crime area, defend yourself. Sorry you have a tree in your yard, we will not cover you house. That is what the for-profit insurance companies are doing to the health of millions of Americans.

    August 17, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  17. Steve in Alabama

    Here are the BEST arguments I've seen in behalf of the current proposals on healthchare reform:

    (1) People against the reform are racists.

    (2) Bush caused all the problems.

    (3) The government should start being Christian.

    (4) Just shut up.

    (5) There are no other alternatives. It's this or nothing.

    August 17, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  18. ETM

    Health care is a human right and one we already recognize, which is why we provide at minimum emergency room treatment for everyone, whether or not the person is insured.
    It would be cheaper and more prudent to treat the indigent before they become desperately sick. When will the naysayers start using their brains.

    August 17, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  19. America Shrugged

    81% of people in america have insurance? What % is Medicare, Medicaid, Tri-Care and VA? This discussion should be about millions of hard working Americans who fall between the cracks, make too much money for state run plans (medicaid) , can't afford the skyrocketing premiums of private plans. No one talks about how insurance companies can use your FICO score to determine private premium costs. With millions losing their homes due to job losses, etc.. credit scores are plummenting and insurance companies use that to their advantange. I don't see any honest discussions on this thread, only vitrolic RW rhetoric. Whatever the final bill looks like, if it helps some, that will be a start. After all, that's what I'm concerned about, not some political calculation. All you naysayers out there, just remember how much you love your insurance company when they decide you are too risky ( costly ) to continue coverage and drop you like a hot potato.

    August 17, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  20. Robin in Tampa, FL

    Progressives its time go to these town halls meetings and voice your support for the public option, do not stand ideally by and let a tiny group of misinformed clowns derail health care reform.

    August 17, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  21. Glenn; Detroit, MI

    As long as Republicans are getting from the Healthcare lobby, there will not be meaningful healthcare reform. Aetna, Cigna, BCBS, and all the rest have an army of activists and lobbyists whose sole mission is to ensure real reform never see's the light of day.

    August 17, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  22. Sniffit

    "Why do you think most of the socialistic world is moving into a direction of "captilism"???? "

    Who told you this? Whoever it is should be shot. Do you not recognize blatant lies when they're right in front of you?

    August 17, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
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