WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Obama administration is not backing away from its support for a public option as part of health-care reform, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius stressed Tuesday.
"Here's the bottom line: Absolutely nothing has changed," Sebelius said.
"We continue to support the public option. That will help lower costs, give American consumers more choice and keep private insurers honest. If people have other ideas about how to accomplish these goals, we'll look at those, too. But the public option is a very good way to do this."
She made her remarks during an address at a Medicare conference.
Sebelius caused an uproar Sunday when she said on CNN's "State of the Union With John King" that a public insurance plan is "not the essential element" of health-care reform.
The move appeared to be a concession to critics, particularly Republican lawmakers who have assailed the idea of the government playing that kind of role. It stirred up enormous frustration, however, from those on the left who believe a public option is critical.
"All I can tell you is that Sunday must have been a very slow news day," Sebelius told the conference attendees.