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. Amazingoly

    She needs to click her heels together, and go back to Kansas. Had enough of her already.

    August 18, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  2. X

    Private insurance companies could right now of their own accord eliminate cherry picking, rationing of care, pre-existing condition exclusions and all of the other shameful abuses they perpetrate on the American public but they don't. Curious. Clearly, when it comes to health insurance, the private sector cannot be trusted because they are not motivated by the common good but by profit. Private enterprise works great for a lot of things but has proven to be downrighht awful in providing affordable health insurance to the American public. We need a public option and if the GOP and blue dogs try to derail it, ram it through with reconcilliation. After a few years, when all the right wing fear mongering proves to have been nonsense, the American public will love it, just like they love Medicare and Social Security.

    August 18, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  3. eolufemi

    They better get their story together because capitulating when the current proposals are already reasonable compromises in themselves is a sure way to erode their base.

    August 18, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  4. Tom in Wheaton, Illinois

    OK, so I guess we tested the waters with a "float" about deep-sixing the Public Option and it met with howls of protest from Democrats and snores from Republicans. Now that we can see that bringing ANY Republicans on board with healthcare reform is just a fantasy, let's get on with passing the bill with the Public Option and ignoring the Republicans. It is exactly what they'd do (and did do) whenever we disagreed with them. To hell with them, I say.

    August 18, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  5. Cynthia

    Democrats get some back bone!!! The republicans are for one thing and that is to make the POTUS look bad. It is the old and new racists you see. Who would not want to lower their health care costs? They rather pay out of their buts than to see Obama get bredit for trying to do something good. The economy was bad before Obama ,he is trying to clean up the mess that was made from the 8 years of republican rule. GET OVER IT!!!!!!!!!

    August 18, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  6. yuri

    The question Is-Can she satisfy the insatiable insurgents in her own party and the armed thugs supportin' the GOP?

    August 18, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  7. Ronnie James Dio

    A public option is the metal thing to do. Aaaaaaaaaaahhh!!!!!!! Have a nice day!

    August 18, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  8. Moonbeam

    And while we are playing with words, I would like suggest one very important re-calibration.
    So called Democrats forming "Blue Dog" coalition must be renamed
    "Republican Poodles" for the sake of transparency!

    August 18, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  9. Tony

    The majority of the country voted to put Dems in Congress, Senate and White House. They need to accomplish what the ran on accomplishing. To hell with the Republicans. They care more about the insurance companies than the people. We want health care reform INCLUDING a public option for those (the working poor) who currently can afford health insurance yet don't qualify for medicaid.

    August 18, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  10. SD, Michigan

    Warning to the Dems, especially those wolves in sheep's clothes called "Blue Dog Democrats":
    NO PUBLIC OPTION-NO REELECTION-NO KIDDING!

    August 18, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  11. Richie

    I'm so sick and tired of this. We need single payer. Health insurance companies can revamp to offer add-on insurance. Employers can pay higher taxes rather than premiums to insurance companies. Why is this so hard?

    August 18, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  12. fred

    If Obama wants to have his rating stop dropping, he has to compromise. New NBC poll out today shows 43% favor a public option with 47% opposed. And that's NBC, which typically is considered more liberal. These are just the facts. Most Americans do NOT support the president on this matter. Iraq is what started bringing Bush down. This public option could do the same for Obama. If this is the case, he'll never make it to a second term.

    August 18, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  13. Mike in MN

    The liberal leadership of the Democratic party is clearly out of touch with the majority of voters.
    Poll after Poll shows that a majority of voters do not support the health care reform bills that have a public option.
    And not just that, but a majority of voters rate deficit reduction as a higher priority than health care reform.
    Polls show a majority of voters did not and do not support the bailouts, stimulius or cap and trade.
    Obama failed when he pretended to be a centerist to gain the votes of independents in order to win the election.
    But Obama is really a far left liberal and in order to pass his liberal agenda, he needed to do it very quickly before the majority of voters could realize what was happening. This has failed. Now Obama is stuck. He can move to the center like Clinton did and anger his liberal base, or he and Pelosi can cram liberal bills down the throats of a center right majority of voters and anger them.
    Not a good spot for Obama to be in.

    August 18, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  14. Mississippie Mike

    You are a racist. You have alot of ramblings that only amount to ignorance based on race. You choose to be this way and perpetuate willfull stupidity. I use the word stupidity, because you know better.

    August 18, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  15. Cain

    Conflicted much? I think we have a possible hint on how much Obama can take of dropping poll numbers. He met yesterday with Pres. Clinton and that man could tell him a thing or two about fleeing to middle ground for approval. I think he has found out most Americans are not enthused about a President who imperils their future.

    August 18, 2009 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  16. bozo the obama

    wrong Sebelius. if there was support for this tax plan it would have already passed with all those loons in congress.

    August 18, 2009 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  17. Bridgette

    I don't care what is in that bill and how much it will help the average American whether they have insurance or medicare the Republicans will not vote for it. They had some really great stuff taken out of that stimulus bill and then didn't vote for it. That is the same thing that's going on here. It is time for Democrats to give up on this bipartisan mess because the only thing the Republicans are interested in is making the President look bad at any cost. They are not interested in what will be best for America nor Americans just what would be best for them. The Republican and Blue Dog Senators are bought and paid for. This is what you get when the health industry donates 1.3 million dollars to your supposedly campaign. They don't give them that money because they like them. They are now demanding pay back. And all of these people that have voted for these people need to take a look at who their senators really work for.

    August 18, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  18. Alfred E. Neumann

    Public option – anything else will leave health care status quo: high cost and fifty million without coverage.

    Co-ops are a joke!

    August 18, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  19. Cindy PA

    Another Democrat off topic and misspeaks, she is going to be reprimanded by the teleprompter president his amateur hour administration.

    August 18, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  20. RealityKing

    Obama is a follower, he will support anything that comes out of congress..

    August 18, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  21. Mike

    I see the white house cannot get their story straight as usual. Does the word "flip flop" come to mind. Just more change we can believe in and of course yes we can". Excuse me, throw up time.

    August 18, 2009 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  22. tv

    What they should do is make Medicare available to everyone.
    They can fund it by having a fair tax or a national sales tax so everyone pays for it some way or another.

    The death panel line should start with rogue doctors, insurance company fraud people first.

    What's the problem ?

    August 18, 2009 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  23. GI Joe

    I'm voing AGAINST BLUE DOG DEMS in my state. How about you all?

    August 18, 2009 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  24. Dave

    guess this is the definition of "flip flop"

    August 18, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  25. Pepou

    Of course it is the only reform worthwhile. Without public option the insurance companies which are profit driven will have a field day and will continue their outrageous practices.

    August 18, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
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