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. Wake Up

    Where did our founding fathers ever advocate something as dumb as federal control of health care. USA was founded on limited national govt. Govt....let us keep our money, and we can decide state by state what to do. Do you advocates of a Public Option really understand what will happen? Forever debts. permanent 10% unemployment, and reduction of care. Be honest, not partisan! Govt. control = waste!!!

    August 17, 2009 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  2. dominican mama 4 Obama

    Terrorists abroad – The Taliban

    Terrorists at home – Republicans in government and Blue Dog Democrats.

    We're sooo screwed.

    August 17, 2009 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  3. anthony

    If the public is afraid of a public option, perhaps we should change Medicare from a government-run program to a non-profit cooperative that some Republicans are proposing. We should demand that our representatives in the Congress join such a cooperative and give up the government-backed insurance plan that they now enjoy. If the Republicans believe what they are proposing will work and the non-profit cooperative will be able to compete with private insurance companies they should put their money where their mouth is.

    August 17, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  4. D-Nice

    Lack of a public option will take all the teeth out of this bill and result in a giant handout for the insurance companies.

    Taking the "socialist" route may not be politically expedient, but when this bill fails to fix the healthcare system (and it will fail without a public option) it will still fall squarely at the feet of the Democratic Party, and its members will wish they had not caved to the Republicans and corporatist blue dogs.

    August 17, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  5. Four and The Door

    With rumblings coming out of Washington about a second stimulus package, why are they even still talking about this now? The economic recovery does not need another drag on it.

    August 17, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  6. Keith in Austin

    To all the freeloaders looking for more Government handouts: the People have spoken. NO SINGLE PAYER PUBLIC OPTION! Stop blaming Republicans too. Hard working tax paying Americans are sick and tired of the reckless spending, socialistic agendas and Government's invasion on our freedom.

    August 17, 2009 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  7. Bridgette

    What kind of reform would you have if there is no public option for health care. I think the President should let it be known that he would veto any bill without that option. They should stop consulting with the Republicans they are going to do just like they did with the stimulus they are going to say they want all of these things in or out and not one of them is going to vote for this bill. But, they will go home and take credit for everything. They don't give the Republicans a chance to do it.

    August 17, 2009 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  8. Some republican guy

    Close all of the public schools and universities. Education is not a right! Have a nice day!

    August 17, 2009 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  9. Alfred E. Neumann

    Far Lefties – prepare to grab your ankles!

    August 17, 2009 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  10. They've Already Got "Death Panels". They're Called Health Insurance Company CEOs

    Single payer is the best.
    Public option is OK.
    Status quo is unacceptable.

    August 17, 2009 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  11. Deanna

    Unbelievable , how Obama can stoop so low by making too many inacurate statements and telling right out lies while trying to push this reform bill.
    By doing so he degrades the highest office of this nation.
    If this bill is truly that great it would stand on it's own merits.
    Could it be that Obama wants to ram this bill through regardless of cost and effiency but rather for his own ideology and vanity.?

    August 17, 2009 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  12. Peoples Voice

    Not only should the Congress, the president, Medicare and Medicaid be subjected to the same program that the watered down bill will provide, but the military and vets should be too

    Stop yelling about government run health care and not to change your Medicare at the same time. You truly sound stupid when you do.

    August 17, 2009 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  13. Palin Power

    Palin's death panel remarks is a clear sign that she will rise to the Presidency in 2012. This country will be on the right direction and will be much better off with Sarah Palin's outstanding leadership.

    August 17, 2009 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  14. Actions louder than words..

    I like this White House administration. They are willing to compromise and work out the details of the plan to have something almost everyone will be happy with. (you just can't please everyone though)

    Actions speak louder than words, and for those who want to say that Obama is forcing things on us, his actions prove you wrong.

    His actions have shown that he listens to America and tries to work with people. A president for the people.

    August 17, 2009 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  15. DJ

    Don't cave-in to the big lobbyists and the Republican nutjobs that shout at the townhalls. Do the right thing tax the rich to pay for the public option. 10 cars vs 11 cars for a rich family vs death sentence for a poor family?

    August 17, 2009 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  16. Obama - The Bill Clinton Redux Rollover

    Thanks, but no thanks!

    August 17, 2009 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  17. sensible Cape Coral Fl

    While I applaud President Obama's efforts at Health Care Reform, I just hope his desire for bipartison input does not so dilute the ultimate bill that it loses any value.

    August 17, 2009 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  18. Miracles don't happen magically

    It seems there is a prevalent notion that we were all going to almost instantly have more money, jobs and less debt after Bush left office. It does not work that way, folks. Give it time – years, maybe.

    August 17, 2009 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  19. G SMITH PA

    What does Obama and Health Reform have in common. They are both going down. This is great news. A victory for America and Capitalism.

    August 17, 2009 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  20. obummer, 1 and done

    I guess the real issue for obummer now is how to position this so he looks like it's a win for him?

    Already got the spin docotrs working hard to claim a victory.

    August 17, 2009 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  21. Cynthia

    I am so mad that the White House is caving in. Presidenta Obama do you not understand it is not about the reform of health care, it is about destroying you!!!!!! These idiots are against something that will help them, they are willing to give it up just to destroy you. Democrats you are starting to make me mad!!! Yes for Public Option!!!!!!!!

    August 17, 2009 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  22. JLS

    There are currently 1300 insurance companies in the U.S. However our current laws FORBID Americans from buying insurance OUTSIDE the state you live in. WHY?? Why should I not be able to buy insurance in CA., even though I live in FLA or NY??
    All this does is reduce the competition that CAN exist, simply by the govt., changing the laws on the books. Why doesn't somebody ask this question to Obama, to see what he thinks?

    August 17, 2009 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  23. AUSTIN,TX

    for all of you idiots that don't want the public option, then shut up and let everyone else get it. I wonder if you lost your job tomorrow, what would you say about the public option then or have a family crisis where your insurance deny you approval.

    August 17, 2009 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  24. Eddie

    Be very careful here folks.....remember Obama is a LIAR.....he has lyed in the past and he will lie again!.....when? While his lips are moving!

    What the Libs cannot realize is that the majority of this nation does NOT want socialistic ideas, we do NOT want to become like the "rest of the world". Why do you think most of the socialistic world is moving into a direction of "captilism"???? They have been there and know it does not work! Sooner or later the people who are putting up the money will run out of money....such is the case in the UK, Russia, Canada etc!!

    August 17, 2009 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  25. Tom in Delaware

    So far the only person to accomplish anything on this Healthcare Reform Bill is Sarah Palin after her 'Death Panels' remark actually got the Senate to remove it from their bill.

    For something that was supposed to be totally untrue and 'whacky', it sure seems that it was disconcerting enough that the United States Senate took it seriously.

    I know that's gotta P.O. the B.O. and his whorshipers....HA.

    August 17, 2009 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
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