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. Scott, Tucson

    Too bad the far left just don't move to say France, Russia or California and live their Utopian ideal llives there.

    August 17, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  2. Kevin B

    If the public option dies, we have capitulated to the special interest and the aerican people will lose. Spending 18 percent of GDP spent on health care is purely a rip off of the american people.

    Follow the money people and this will reveal who benefits from the current system.

    August 17, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  3. bob in LA

    This is what the process was supposed to be- compriise after discussion. The goal for this plan is cover every Ameican and be sure everyone has insurnace. If this can be done without a public option, great!

    August 17, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  4. I Didn't Vote for Republican-lite

    That's it Dems, lead those Rushcheneycans out of the woods with your gross incompetence! Here, I'll light the torch for you.

    August 17, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  5. Peter

    I am one of the "frustrated" Democrats. We elected President Obama based on his campaign of CHANGE.

    The President should challenge the Republicans to filibuster. Challenge them to offer alternatives. Challenge them as the party of NO. Caving in to a vocal minority is more of the same old, same old.

    August 17, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  6. Craig from Pennsylvania

    I want the same health care plan that the Federal government has, Congress, the Senate, the military....We are already paying for it in taxes, the fund is started!! How much of a co-pay and deductible are they paying??? Compared to what I pay for my own coverage at work ( when I get a raise, it is between 3 and 4 %), my healthcare premium goes up on average of 6% a year.....then I have to co pay on top of that AND pay taxes for the aforementioned......I say take it away from Federal and put the money that is already there to work for an overall health care plan for Everyone!!

    August 17, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  7. dominican mama 4 Obama

    Mr. President:

    Get your Democrats in line sir. They are acting like pussies again. Are you going to allow them (with a House majority no less) to sabotage this healthcare reform as well, because they are "too scared". Do you know how that makes you and your Party look? The word spineless comes to mind. Put your foot down or up their arses, I'm not too particular, so long as they toe the line, and get with the program.

    August 17, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  8. Angie in PA

    Without The Public option what is the sense of healthcare reform
    DEMOCRATS GROW A SPINE
    DIRTY DOGS YOU CALL YOURSELVES DEMOCRATS THEN BE A DEMOCRAT GET OUT OF BED WITH THE LOBBYSIT OR ELSES TAKE YOUR SELFS OVER TO THE PARTY OF LOBBYSIT AND SPECIAL INTEREST COMES FIRST REPUBLICANS!

    Sorry for the screaming folks but I have had enough with Republicans and these so called dirty dogs WE ELECTED PRESIDENT OBAMA WE ELECTED CHANGE!!!!!!!!

    August 17, 2009 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  9. donttreadonme

    Medicare is paid into by workers there entire lives to provide them with retirement medical coverage. Can't say the same for Obama care!

    Too bad Obama wasted all of our money on his “stimulus paybacks” to the union fat cats and political allies that got him elected.

    August 17, 2009 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  10. John, NC

    Obama has no experience. He is just floundering around hoping someone else will come up with something.

    August 17, 2009 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  11. Richard King

    If there is so much controverssy over Health Care Reform, why can't we just make it simple. REGULATION of the Insurance Companies, and Regulation of the Health Care Industry. REGULATION!!!!!!

    The Government sets the guidelines, and the Helath Care Industry, and Insurance Companies must comply within the guidelines.

    Why is it the Government can TELL us to wear Seat Belts, but they can't tell The Health Care Industry or Insurance Companies what they can and can't do?

    August 17, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  12. Peoples Voice

    Without the public option there is no reform. This is the only way to rein in the greedy insurance companies that have no problem pulling the plug on grandma or special needs children.

    August 17, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  13. Steve

    If they truly want health care reform, Congress needs to come up with a bill that they themselves, their families and all federal, state, and municipal employees are required to participate in. Then you would get a decent bill. As long as they can exempt themselves from this coverage, all that will remain is crap. They don't care what's really in the bill, since it doesn't effect them, they only care about getting credit for passing a health care bill, good or bad, makes no difference. These guys will ultimately agree on a version that is so watered down it will most likely increase costs related to government, and produce nothing substantial.

    August 17, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  14. Angie in PA

    Even if President Obama drops the Public Option and compromises with republicans and dirty republican dogs ( blue dogs) they still will not vote for the bill REPUBLICANS ARE TRYING TO DESTROY HIM President Obama you are smarter then this

    August 17, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  15. Bedtime for Obonzo

    Health care is no more a "human right" that food, clothing, or shelter. How about a taxpayer-financed "public option" for those three items? Shouldn't cost more than a couple of trillion dollars per year. No, I didn't think so. The public option is dead. Move on.

    August 17, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  16. Debbie - Ohio

    I support a public option!

    August 17, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  17. Frustrated!

    Stop it !!!
    Stop it !!!
    Stop it !!!
    What are you doing?
    The people stopping progress on our badly needed helath care reforms are the same people who voted in G.W. for the second time!
    Pay attention! Can't you people read? Don't you research what you are screaming about? Who gave you your information? If this country allows this health care reform to fail, we deserve what we get. I am embarrased for all of us!

    August 17, 2009 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  18. Wake Up

    NO GOVT control! Just give everyone an equal voucher to go buy insurance themselves. Allow buying over state lines, and disallow being cut for prior sicknesses. That's all. End debate. Please, do not let govt. take this over and ruin our health care system.

    August 17, 2009 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  19. annie s

    The President, I'm very sorry to day, is copping out. Without a public option there is no reform. Co-ops already exist and they do absolutely nothing to bring down costs or to help insure those who are currently considered uninsurable by the for profit insurers.

    To all the conservatives who think a public option will take something away from them, destroy the private insurers or create government interference in their personal lives, we already have successful government run plans -Medicare, Medicaid and Tricare. In all my years as a medical practice administrator, I never met anyone who wasn't happy with those plans – and the existence of those government plans obviously have taken nothing away from the private insurers. To those who think it will mean rationed care, the private insurers already ration your care – and often flat out deny it. And sometimes, they even cause you to go bankrupt with out of pocket and uncovered expenses.

    Americans, I'm sorry to say, are either the most ignorant or most selfish people in the world, because they are fighting against their own best interests. Our expensive 37th ranked healthcare system needs to do much better – and without a public option, it simply isn't going to.

    August 17, 2009 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  20. Olivia, Atlanta

    Do not cave on this! The public option (PO) is a core element in the reform not a marginal component. Without the PO it would be like "arranging the chairs on the deck" with very little impact on the status quo: ie., high preimiums, high cost, medical-bills-caused bankruptcy, etc. We need real change on healthcare and the people voted for that not for just a reshuflling of the system.

    People need some bargaining power in the insurance market or they will still be abused. Without the PO insurance companies will have little incentives to compete among themselves and reduce costs and more to collude behind doors against consumers by increasing premiums or by burocratic tactics to discriminate care. Cups on co-payments or no discrimination for underlying conditions would be easier to implement with PO. Moreover, a PO would work in fact as regulating tool of HMOs and health insurances as are the Medicare/Medicaid programs so understandably they wll be opposed. But Obama has a mandate, so do not let PO go down. It would be a "Titanic" disaster, politically and for the reform itself.

    August 17, 2009 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  21. Obama Victim

    the public option is dead.............what part of "dead" do you not get?

    what part of "you lose" do you not get??

    what part of "obozo is gone in 2012" do you not get ??

    it's over....get used to it

    August 17, 2009 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  22. William, from Cali

    Smart Older People... are finally "waking-up" from the DemocRATIC coma!....that these Un-american, money giving bail-outing con artist's KOOL-AID; and I do mean Aid...not AIG... put them in... after and during the past election soap-opera! That's a good thing for healthcare in this Country!

    August 17, 2009 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  23. Drew

    If President Obama leave the Public Option out of the bill , he would have let us all down. He is giving in to the same big insurance companies that have been cheating us for years. I have a friend who wife just had a major surgery she is in a coma, she has been in that state for over two months. Guess! what her husband just received a letter from the insurance company stating they are being dropped from their plan. (WAKE UP PEOPLE)

    August 17, 2009 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  24. donttreadonme

    "My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you - ask what can you do for your country."

    The problem is that with out the "public option" some of you dems may actually have to pay for a portion of your insurance?

    August 17, 2009 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  25. J.P.

    Pretty, flowery speeches by the President are not going to change the fact there are too few medical providers RIGHT NOW. Adding in another 50 million patients will only further stress the system

    The unintended consequences of a government takeover, or even just additional government mandates (wage/price controls, pitful reimbursement rates), will result in existing "seasoned" physicians simply retiring early, and their replacements now in undergrad, will simply head to business school or law school.

    Why give up the best 12 years of your life in becoming a doctor (and incur hundreds of thousands in med school debt), just to become a GS-12 government worker? These bright young minds will instead spend three years in law school and will actually be compensated well for their efforts.

    The Party of Unintended Consequences strikes again.

    August 17, 2009 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
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