June 14th, 2009
09:54 AM ET
13 years ago

Health care costs are 'crushing us,' says Sebelius

WASHINGTON (CNN) – A day before President Obama is set to make the case for health care reform before the American Medical Association, Obama’s health and human services secretary said the young administration is open to considering a number of options to meet its goals of containing costs and extending coverage in the nation’s health care system.

“The costs are crushing us,” HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union. “It’s hurting families. Our businesses are less competitive. We can’t continue on this pathway,” the Obama Cabinet member added.

To achieve Obama’s health care reform agenda, the administration is considering several different approaches including a public insurance option, Sebelius said Sunday.

A public option would be similar to the existing Medicare and Medicaid programs and, by competing with plans offered by private insurers, the White House hopes it would help to lower the cost of coverage throughout the market.

“Competition is a good thing . . . Choice and competition is what we want,” Sebelius told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King Sunday.

“The president does not want to dismantle privately owned plans. He doesn’t want the 180 million people who have employer coverage to lose that coverage. He wants to strengthen the marketplace.”

Asked about the idea of forming health insurance co-operatives – privately owned, non-profit co-ops that would provide coverage - as a way to reform the system, Sebelius suggested the White House might be open to that approach.

“Having the ideas on the table is exactly where we need to be right now,” said Sebelius. “There is no one-size-fits-all idea.”

Sebelius also defended use of comparative effectiveness research which is used to identify which tests and treatments provide the best outcomes.

“Higher cost does not translate to higher quality,” the HHS Secretary said.

soundoff (94 Responses)
  1. John Z.

    I cannot see how reform to the present health care system can be affordable by just plugging the holes in the present private insurance system with public money, asthe thing that is making health care so expensive at present is paying for the profits of the private insurers. The only way to have an affordable health care system is for the government to completely take over health care insurance as in done in Canada. I know that would cost some people their jobs, but in order to make an omelet you have to break some eggs.

    June 14, 2009 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  2. Champly

    The Obamist would set up a federal insurance company to "compete" against private carriers. It would use our tax dollars to undercut the competition driving them out of business. It would then be able to force the 270 million (Sebelius's 180 million is smoke and mirrors) who do have some type of coverage into the federal plan, at which time the Democrat party would be in absolute control of healthcare, forcing everyone to pay for everything from sex change operations to forced preventive care mandated by Democrat party hacks such as Barney Frank and Nancy Pelosi.

    By forced preventive care the party would control our day to day lives. Forcing us to exercise when they want us to, to the degree they want us to. Eating habit would be controlled and monitored. All the while drug addicts and people who live alternative life styles (beloved and encouraged by the Democrat party) run up massive claims for everything thing from addictions to AIDS.

    June 14, 2009 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  3. Dawn in Pa

    That it is, you have a job and some jobs will pay for their employees, but when it's comes for the dependents it's outrageous what they will take out per week, I see what is taking out for me out of my husbands pay check.

    I remember when I had to pay out of pocket way back in the 70's for Blue Cross-Blue Shield; even back then was a lot of money, I did not have dental or eye insurance and I had to pay out of pocket for medication, and at the time, it was not a lot of money back then. That was then...

    This is now, When my mother was dying back in 1998 even back then, my dad had to pay for very expensive education, and he would get reimbursed about 1/3 to what he paid out of pocket. It was not fair to my parents, now medicare and Medicaid they pay 1 to 5 dollars, it all depends on what the medication is.

    Healthcare has been in the toilet for many years, and has anyone paid out for Cobra and could you afford it?

    June 14, 2009 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  4. Jon

    Ask anyone on Medicare or Medicaid if they would prefer to have private medical insurance of the "public plan" that they are already enrolled in and they will most assuredly choose private insurance.

    June 14, 2009 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  5. phoenix86

    Don't worry, Pelosi will only consider Government Care (FEMA trailers anyone?), while Waxman will push through a new tax through Cap & Trade (where it is cheaper to buy the credit from the government than build alternative energy sources).

    The Oblama administration is full of it. What a disgrace.

    June 14, 2009 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  6. ib

    This is just another example of how Obama wants the gov. to take complete controll of our lives. I agree something needs to be done but not total gov. controll. Let's start with limiting all the stupid lawsuits that happen in this country. Everything from health ins. to car ins. is driven out of sight by these lawsuits. If Wal-Mart can offer $4.00 a month medicine why can't others? Gov. controll will only destroy our health care not improve it.

    June 14, 2009 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  7. skyhawkdriver

    When the people of america are provided with the same FREE health care plan that our elected officals are given then obumble will win my support..until then all the rhetoric flowing from washington will be meaningless..socialized medicine is a failure in europe and anywhere else it has been tried..do you really want the government controlling your health??..and just what government authority do you know of that actually works??..the post office??..two billion dollars in debt??..social security??..congress has raided it so often it will be broke when most of us baby boomers retire..the federal government needs to stick to what the constitution says and leave us alone to live our lives

    June 14, 2009 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  8. Artemisios

    What happens to people in private insurance when their medical expenses rise to a level that makes their premiums insufficiently profitable for the insurance company? But of course, we don't want the government (i.e., the people) interfering and rationing health care! Benito would be proud.

    June 14, 2009 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  9. U.S. health industry a disgrace

    overhaul and study and implement

    get it done

    it is completely out of hand

    the health industry tries to justify it, but their excuses are empty

    June 14, 2009 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  10. Margaret

    This is about power and votes and nothing else. Congress has had decades to fix this. Find one affordable, well run government program in the history of this nation, I dare you. Go ahead.

    We'll ALL be living in government housing before this is over. Why are our politicans talking about spending trillions of dollars on a program that only affects a small portion of this country, unless you are talking about illegals, of course. The Prez has already included them in your bailout money and those jobs you have yet to see materialize.

    Millions out of work in the great one's first 6 months. Wake up, America. You are as dumb as a rockpile.

    June 14, 2009 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  11. ysidero

    @ champly

    and exactly how are these *socialists* going to *force* u to exercise? handcuff u to a treadmill and dangle a cheeseburger in front of ur face? and, its absurd to say that 270 million have healthcare in the US, i work in emergency medical services and i know how many people have no coverage and therefore ignore problems until they get bad enough for them to need to call 911. preventive care is not only cost-effective, it is humane and logical. duh.

    June 14, 2009 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  12. Norm

    I don't understand it. Many western industrialized countries, particularly in Europe, have better and cheaper health systems than America. Why all the debate? Why don't we just copy one of the European systems?

    June 14, 2009 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  13. lynn in NM

    I don't want it, thank you very much. The reason why you can't afford insurance is because the insurance companies have to make a profit (or at least they think so). You are supposed to buy insurance, but never use it. That way, the insurance prices will stay down, and AIG can rake in its trillions of dollars, and still have the CEO make hundreds of millions of dollars a year. You just have to roll over and play dead, and everything will be just fine.

    June 14, 2009 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  14. To: Phoenix86

    really Phoenix86? Obama in his 3 months in office created the health care mess? Pelosi or Waxman?

    you are the disgrace and need to get a job and walk away from your computer and enjoy a little nature, you are caught up in yourself

    June 14, 2009 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  15. Make America Great Again

    this is news? we pay 30% of our income for insurance and medical bills ... and none of are sick.

    June 14, 2009 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  16. Sniffit

    Yes so let us have health care costs crush the gov instead. That's exactly what it needs right now.

    Fix the gov first, then fix health care!

    June 14, 2009 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  17. Sniffit

    @ To: Phoenix86

    I believe he is 6 days away from FIVE months in office; your talking points need an update!

    June 14, 2009 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  18. repub luvr

    Hey Jon,
    I have been on Medicaid and it was far better than private insurance. It covers absolutely everything with no co-pays, premiums or deductible. Where private insurance can refuse whatever they feel like, drop you once you've cost them too much and don't cover you until you pay your premiums AND meet your deductible. We tried getting Blue Cross Blue Shield through work- yes my work plan. That cost 400/month premiums, 750 dollar deductible for all three of us and all sorts of sneaky little provisions to keep them from paying out, and maximum expenditure clauses. The reps for BCBS were rude and unprofessional and my wife had a miscarriage while we were busy jumping through their hoops. Public medicine works all over Europe and Canada don't let the GOP fool you. Our health care system is a wreck...unless you are rich.

    June 14, 2009 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  19. Tim

    No different than the past decade. Stop the lawyers, solve the problem. Hopenchange is using the politics of fear, who would have imagined?

    June 14, 2009 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  20. Reggie

    We are not socialists. It will not work here.

    June 14, 2009 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  21. Ray from Nashville

    Jeez, the propaganda machine is working overtime on this one! I've seen the ads on tv about the government bulldozing private insurers out of business and giving examples of health care problems from England and Canada. I read Champly's anti-Democratic party drivel. I hear the insurance company shills who serve in Congress spread fear and lies to try and save their masters profits. Unfortunately, the only crisis they see is the threat to big business profits.

    The truth is we have a health care crisis in this country is going to affect everyone sooner or later. Companies who strive to take care of their employees are crippled by the cost of coverage; some even discontinue offering health insurance. Most individuals face a health care crisis sooner or later, either themselves or with someone in their family. The costs are huge and the effects can be devastating, including loss of savings and even bankruptcy.

    Comprehensive health care reform will be one of the best things to happen to this country, ranking up there with the constitution, the freeing of the slaves and the voting rights and civil rights acts. It will allow American companies to compete in the global market. It will protect the old, the young and those live in the lower wage strata, who are just as important to the American economy as the CEO's who make the huge salaries.

    Creating a government run entity to compete with insurance companies won't run private insurance companies out of business. They may have to change their strategies and their profits may not be as obscene as they are now, but they will survive. Suggestions to the contrary are put forth to scare people and make them lose their heads, or are put forth by people who have already lost their minds.

    June 14, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  22. catmom

    As a person who has worked with older people for the past 20 years I would say they are very pleased with their Medicare. I would also say that those who are dual eligible are also very pleased. They have choice. They are able to see any doctor who accepts Medicare. They go to their hospital of choice. They get the care needed and in a timely manner. They receive physical, occupational and speech therapy. They get necessary medical equipment. The only problem is Part D prescription Medicare coverage. Quite a few Seniors go into the "donut hole" early into the year and have to pay full cost for their medications even though they continue to pay a premium. The Drug plan can drop a particular drug at any time and the consumer has to pay full price. The consumer on the other hand can't change a program until the next year.

    How about you take time and investigate the health programs in Canada and other foreign countries. Don't just stop and listen to those who don't want the program to begin with. Ask yourself, why? Why don't they want all American citizens to have access to affordable health care?

    Have you noticed that you never hear those against Universal Health Care discuss what it would do to a person's salary if health care weren't included in their employment package. I mean think about it. If we weren't dependent on employer based health care perhaps we would see that cost included in our pay. Hmmmm....

    June 14, 2009 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  23. Seattle Sue

    skyhawkdriver===Why don't you get your facts straight before you start typing? Go to Google and check health care insurance for federal workers, it is not free. ======================================================Champly====Have you been listening to Limbaugh again? Limbaugh is saying it's people that exercise and play sports that is driving the cost of insurance/ health care up.====Just Dumb.

    June 14, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  24. Champly

    Dearest ysidero – If you want everyone to have all the medical care they want, from sex changes to breast implants then YOU PAY FOR IT. I work too hard to be raped by you and others to pay YOUR SALARY.

    June 14, 2009 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  25. Ed Knight

    Check all the European countries, middle-east countries,
    Cuba, and even Taiwan have very good health care. My Family members had heart surgery, cataract and glaucoma surgery, medical exams, mammograms all free. Wait times are not bad at all. We pay in our taxes and each and every one is covered. Why is it 40 million US citizens are without health care? The politicians are in the pocket of the large medical insurance companies. Why does the so-called richest country not have it? ASK, really ask, your politicians and you will get all sort of lies about other countries care. Don't believe them my friends.

    June 14, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
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