August 16th, 2009
12:48 PM ET
13 years ago

TX Dem: Bill without public option 'would be very, very difficult'

WASHINGTON (CNN) –On the same day that a Cabinet member signaled the administration’s willingness to forego inclusion of a public health insurance option in the final version of health care reform legislation, a Texas Democrat who is also a registered nurse suggested that the public option might be a deal breaker for at least some House Democrats.

“It would be very, very difficult,” to support a bill that lacked a public health insurance option, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union, “because, without the public option, we’ll have the same number of people uninsured. If the insurance companies wanted to insure these people now, they’d be insured.

Johnson added that “an option that would give the private insurance companies a little competition” is “the only way” to be sure that insurance is available to low income people and people without employer-provided coverage.

Johnson also told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King that House Democrats have already expressed their desire for a public option to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and even suggested that Pelosi inform the White House that the absence of the public option could be a deal breaker for the House Democratic Caucus.

Georgia Republican Rep. Tom Price, a medical doctor, called “simply false.” the notion that there are only two choices – between government-provided insurance and private insurance. Instead, there is a “patient-centered way” of providing health insurance, “to put patients in charge.” Price also said Sunday that creating a public health insurance option will “crowd out” individuals from the private insurance market and into the government insurance option.

Filed under: Democrats • Health care • House • State of the Union
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