August 18th, 2009
12:09 PM ET
5 years ago

Sebelius reiterates support for public health option

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.


Filed under: Health care • Kathleen Sebelius
soundoff (116 Responses)
  1. Mississippi Mike

    "I was for it before I was against it. But I actually was never against it. You took my words out of context. This is all a whole bunch of racism. Protesters are astroturfers. Dissent is unpatriotic." That's what I would say if I were her.

    August 18, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  2. dominican mama 4 Obama

    I do not believe that Obama will ultimately be the one to take the hit – if in fact there is one to be taken – the Democrats will absorb the first major impact. Citizens see their President assiduously campaigning for helathcare reform. Then they see Blue Dog Dems holding out. Naw, it won't be Obama, it'll be the wimps in the Senate who vote against it RethugliKlans and Democrats alike.

    I find it hilarious that this would be one instance where I wish you retarded RethugliKlans were right and that the President was a Socialist, Communist, Dictator, against the constitution etc. If this were the case he would'nt be looking for bipartisanship. He would just sign healthcare reform into law. Too bad you 'tards called this one wrong too.

    August 18, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  3. Randolph Carter, the cute lil' Obamabot

    I find it ironic that conservatives are against a public option which would remove the burden of high healthcare costs from the small businesses they are so fond of talking about. Oh well, I'd love to stay and chat with all of you all, but I really must be getting to the weekly meeting of the vast liberal conspiracy. Then It's back in the Prius and off to Whole Foods to get more pinot noir (that's wine). Then it's time to take Amelia to Violin lessons and Tyler to Soccer practice. Then a light dinner and witty conversation with my astonishingly beautiful European wife. Sigh. It ain't easy being a liberal. Ta ta! Have a nice day!

    August 18, 2009 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  4. Obama Victim

    read the words...........they "support"......they do not "require"

    this is pretty much tossing a bone to the left...........the votes are still not there

    August 18, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  5. Lynne

    As usual the media parses words to create a non controversy to jack up ratings and create more confusion.

    News should objectively present the facts not try to make policy and influence public opinion. That a socalled major news organization should determiine that this is a "make or break" month for health care and to promote that a president is "weak" and his term with 40 more months to go is at risk is ludicrous!!

    Why don't you just devote one day to experts and leave the pundits and politicians out of it.

    That David Frum is being used on panels that are supposed to be unbuased is laughable.

    August 18, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  6. Darth Vadik, CA

    A public OPTION

    maning option you dumb right wing lunatics.

    If you wish to keep on paying your insurance company hundreds and thousands of dollars for health insurance, then be my guest,

    BUT DONT YOU TRY DARE TAKING AWAY OPTIONS FROM THE PEOPLE WHO ARE SICK OF PAYING THESE MONEY GRABBING MONSTERS THOUSANDS OF THEIR DOLLARS.

    If there was government health insurance, it would cost $10 a month for your whole family, but you are to dumb to let go of old hatereds.

    Poor dumb souls.

    August 18, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  7. Pete S

    Cool, Obama miscalibrated words and now Kathy tries to make it seems that the press misquoted her. I wonder what Obama will say about "with or without the public option". Maybe he can blame the teleprompter. No matter what this bill is dead before arrival.

    Midterm elections are coming up.
    Time for American to rise up and put
    some checks and balances into this
    liberal led spending spree government.

    “A government big enough to supply you with everything you need
    is a government big enough to take away everything that you have
    .... The course of history shows that as the government grows,
    liberty decreases.”

    Thomas Jefferson

    August 18, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  8. Enough

    These people can't make up their minds. All they do is "test" the waters for public opinion.................since they have no opinions of their own. The MAJORITY of Americans do NOT want the crappy healthcare plan they have on the table.

    August 18, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  9. Frank

    So what would be wrong with both health care cooperatives AND a public option in the same bill?

    August 18, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  10. Stacy from Leesburg, VA

    The ultimate goal here is to lower insurance costs. I think the only way to do this is the public option. But I am curious to see other options. I am trying to keep an open mind on this, but expecting the insurance companies to reform themselves is a long wait for an ambulance that ain't coming.

    August 18, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  11. Lynda/Minnesota

    Public option IS the essential element of health care reform - without it there will be no reform.

    Get it done, dems!

    August 18, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  12. bill

    I actually tried to watch State of the Union again this past Sunday. The show is still third rate. Just because John King can operate a magic wall doesn't make him a good host.

    August 18, 2009 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  13. Darth Vadik, CA

    You know for people who cry freed om a lot, they sure do not really wish for freedom to others, such as having different healthcare options (government and private), freedom of choice, freedom of preotesting against bush (free speech zones), freedom to be be able to marry your partners (gays), freedom of religion (only right wing waco christian religion is the right one), etc etc etc...

    ...the only freedom you really want is for you to be able to carry a bazooka down the street. Unless you are black or latino, then you can't do that either.

    Kind of reminds me of Taliban a little bit. Strickt religious laws, and all the thugs carry weapons, I knew there was a connection.

    August 18, 2009 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  14. Phat Elvis

    The media overhyped the story. maybe she should have said 'all options are on the table" which is so non-commital as to not generate a buzz. but then CNN would have nothing to report, as there is absolutely, positivey, nothing else going on in the world....

    August 18, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  15. Hammer

    What will it take for the elite congress members and the media to understand the word "NO".
    No to all government control of my everyday life.
    If you want healthcare, a house, food, clothing, whatever you feel that you need try going to work and earning it. I know that work is a bad four letter word to some people but quit walking with yoyr hand out begging and earn your way. It will make you feel better.

    August 18, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  16. Pel

    Let there be no mistake. We the majority voters put the president in office and we will not allow the less than 50% repugs and their think a likes to pull him off track on the public health care plan.

    Why is it that none of the Repugs Town Hall Meeting have not had the disruption as the Demos. All the initial disruption were planned and lead by the right wingers and the national news media played this up real big. Let them tell it the masses were in support of the Repugs position. THIS ASSUMPTION BY THE NATIONAL NEWS MEDIA WAS TOTALLY WRONG.

    T.R said "walk softly, but carry a big stick." NOW IS THE TIME FOR THE BIG STICKS TO START SWINGING BACK.

    August 18, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  17. Fair is Fair

    Flip, flop... flip, flop...

    August 18, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  18. MO

    Can you say flip-flop?

    August 18, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  19. Ohio river gal

    too many diversionary tactics are stalling the plan.

    get it together Dems. A united front will get things done, a divided front will lose a majority in 2010.

    You have your chance, you'll look REALLY stupid if you don't take it. republican strategists are laughing at you.

    August 18, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  20. dwayne

    That's wht I want to here!! Public Health Care for all Americans

    August 18, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  21. Sniffit

    "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. "

    Sebellius didn't cause the uproar, the media did. You see, the media and all the empty bobbleheads on the so-called "news" stations are more interested in turning non-news into news in their neverending competition for their precious ad revenue. If you can't understand the nuance of saying that the public option is "not the essential element" and believe the media hype that she was indicating it had been taken off the table, then you are truly truly a child of America's culture of sensationalization.

    August 18, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  22. dwayne

    Let go DEMS!! get it done

    August 18, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  23. Kevin B

    It is amazing how the president states clearly that the complete health care reform is not only about the public option and the media outlets go on three day rant on how the public option is dead or dying.

    I never heard him indicate that it is not a critical piece to the reform package.

    Once again the american media outlets have become a self perpetuating entity with little regard for reporting the facts let alone the truth.

    August 18, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  24. Justin

    Bingo! Bring competition and sanity to reimbursement rates. A strong public option will do that.

    What people seem to forget is that medical care itself can actually make you less healthy. Every procedure, test, medication and hospitalization ADDS risk to your health – of infection, of complications, of overmedication, etc.

    Yes, we should preserve what's good about the system, but we shouldn't insist on paying top dollar for medical care that has the opposite effect patients need.

    Effectiveness research and a strong public plan will bring sanity to reimbursement rates and lower costs for EVERYONE.

    Private plans have no incentive to bring down costs. The more cost is in the system, the more money they make. Period.

    August 18, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  25. machtim akannah

    Lies, lies, lies. Sebelius is just mouthing the party line. I bet she has not even read the bill and probably has no clue as to its contents. Will she accept the provisions of the bill on a personal basis for herself and family?

    August 18, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
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