August 18th, 2009
12:09 PM ET
11 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. Kate in San Diego

    The only mistake Obama has made was his naive belief that the Republicans were actually interested in negotiating in good faith. They aren't, and it appears to be a waste of time to treat them as responsible human beings. None of those people screaming and yelling at the town hall meetings really have questions they want answered – they just want an opportunity to act badly. One woman, when asked if she was satisfied with the answer Arlen Spector gave her after she practically spit on him while hollering at him, cheerfully admittted she had no idea what the answer was because she was so wrought up and excited after "asking" her question she did not hear the answer. I think that is very telling.

    August 18, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  2. nea

    Whether its a public option or co-op whatever is best for the millions that dont have health insurance. And all those people that are opposing health care reform need to wake-up, who are you really opposing or turning your backs on, isnt it the poor and the less fortune reember the bible says when you have done to the least of these you have done it to JESUS! So when you are yelling, screaming fussing thinking you are hurting the President maybe its cause you are racist or maybe you have a good excuse search your heart first. Because this may come back to you again. And im not trying to judge anyone ONLY GOD CAN!

    August 18, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  3. MomofFour

    I cant believe how ignorant the GOP supporters are. How can they afford to oppose a reform that might benefit them monetarily. Don't tell me you are all about reducing gov. spending. Where was this ideology when an unnecessary war started? Its time for you guys to shut up and THINK(if you can).

    Go Health care Reform ! Go Obama !

    August 18, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  4. MomofFour

    All the GOP knows is fear-mongering and spreading racial tension. Pathetic party and pathetic, ignorant supporters !

    Vote these morons out completely come 2010.

    August 18, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  5. Bedtime for Obonzo

    Say, why do you Dems keep claiming that a "strong majority" of voters favor a public option? According to Rasmussen this morning, 54% of voters now say that passing no health bill this year is preferable to what's on the table now. Looks more like a weak minority supports it.

    August 18, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  6. Gary

    The key to healthcare reform? The key is that they could fix the preconditions issue tomorrow with unanimous support and the malpractice issue with near unanimous support and then 90% of people would be happier but if everyone was happier no one would want to fix the entire system a so the democrats want to keep a sense of frustration and urgency to allow them to push for reforms that could lead to a government option or a single payer solution. This very obvious.

    August 18, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  7. Grrr-awful-o


    The Obama administration, cool and efficient, lays out a concise, well thought out plan we can all believe in... change... we can all believe in...


    August 18, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  8. MomofFour

    Conservatives believes every word that the rich, elitist FAUX news d-bags say, but cant think for themselves? Sad sad day...for a moment I really wish there were death panels for these morons !

    August 18, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  9. Kitchen Police

    Medicare for all now !!!

    August 18, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  10. Tarheel

    The majority of people are content with their health insurance and are very concerned about a government financed (our tax money)option for two reasons. Number one is that the company they work for will drop their insurance of which they are paying a large percentage of and force their workers to go on the public insurance which will cost the workers more than they are currently having to pay. Number two is that it greatly increase the deficit.

    August 18, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  11. Dennis

    This administration has absoultely no idea what it wants. First it was going to be only the single payer format. Then it was public "option". And now it's Public option is not "essential", But wait, we never said that. It's hard to believe anything they say. But thanks, Obama, for getting Sebelius out of Kansas.

    August 18, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  12. Jelo33

    The problem is the President he needs to stand up and firmly say without equivocation that he expect a bill with the "PUBLIC OPTION" included.
    many people now talking against Health Care Reform will later read their Health Care policy and realize that they aren't as covered as they think they are. That one big illness in the family could wipe them out and have them living under a bridge with no government support.
    Remember they want the Government out of their Health Care so the Insurance Companies use them as a tool to destroy their own protection.
    Being smart was never an American strong suit.

    August 18, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  13. IndyVoter

    IT IS CONGRESS'S JOB TO PASS LEGISLATION!!!! Stop trying to get the President to do your job by saying "the Pres. needs to lead on this..) He has done his job. He is the executor of the laws you pass and the advocate for the people. Pres. Obama has made it clear to Congress what the majority of the American people want and has been getting out there himself and his Cabinet to promote it! DO YOUR JOB CONGRESS and stop passing the buck and playing politics and trying to duck responsibility so you can cover your butts and keep your insurance lobby money!!!

    August 18, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  14. bkbasher

    Good...I hope the public option is still on the table. That way this whole thing gets shot down and we go back to square one.

    This country, at its core, can support healthcare reform which is sorely needed. What it will not support is tax-payer funded healthcare for illegal immigrants and other people who think it is their God-given right not to work, not to pay taxes, and have the rest of us take care of them.

    The liberals can't help least Clinton was smart enough to take the middle road, but Obama is shaping up as the next Jimmy Crater. Good riddance.

    August 18, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  15. Right Leaning Independent

    Does government run insurance include care for hearing loss?Sebelius needs some tests because she is not hearing the majority of Americans that are against the Public Option. Only the loud mob like liberals are screaming in favor of it.... Public Option means the end of private insurance companies!! There is no such thing as keeping your insurance in the bill!! Go read the "Grandfathered Insurance" section. It is obvious that the intent is for all folks to be on the government plan eventually!!! Also, we are bankrupt as a country – we can not afford this plan folks. Try to understand that you can not continue spending more than you are taking in..

    August 18, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  16. Change_Has_Begun

    i agree with some here – lets forget about bringing the republicans on board – all they want is to see obama fail even though that comes with the price of our health...obama should just make those blue dog or whatever democrats agree with him because he is the leader and just pass this health care reform...after that obama can go after rove, chenny and all the bush administration nut jobs...and btw these people who are protesting in obama rallies are the most hypocritcs of all...they don't want government involved in anything but they want their social security and medicare...they want their unemployement check every two bunch of uneducated hooligans aren't going to sway obama from passing what he promised...giant insurance companies – you guys need to hire credible protestors – my suggestion pay rush, hannity, ann coulter, glen beck, and lou dobbs to carry banners in these rallies...

    August 18, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  17. Betsy

    Let the insurance companies find a way to lower the cost and cover more people? Come on get real. This will never happen. They are in the business of maximizing profits.

    August 18, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  18. David In West Virginia

    Sebelius needs to get the majority of Americans who want and need health care and the public option. Conrad and Baccus needs to be told to get with the health plan or get out of the way. They are beholden to the Insurance and Health Lobby and are out to defeat health care for the needy. They need to be defeated when they come up for election and anyone else who sides with the republicans.

    I give the republicans one thing, the stick together, unlike the democrats. The democrats won't even stand together against the lies and the hatred remarks against the President. A sorry lot, Congress is.

    August 18, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  19. Bill

    Remember when the GOP ran Congress and the White House? Do you really think the GOP would try to get Deems to vote for their plan?

    Please Dems run this health care plan though with a strong public option.

    August 18, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  20. Tim

    And let me make it perfectly clear as to what I am supposed to think.

    August 18, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  21. Larry G.

    Without the public option healthcare "reform" will be more or less meaningless. We have had insurance companies in charge of health care for the past 50 to 60 years–LOOK where that got us!!!! More of the same is NOT what we need.

    Why are so many of the American people so unwilling to see what is in THEIR best interest, rather than just repeating the propaganda being put out by the special interest groups/right wing talking heads. I guess it is easier to repeat mis-information than to do your own thinking.

    August 18, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  22. Hugo

    Flippety flop, flippety flop Obama's plan is about to go plop! Democrats are too stupid to figure out the only need for a fix in all of this is tort law reform and smarter insurance regulations. Hey, but why worry about fixing the true problem when you can make a bunch more people dependent on your handouts?

    August 18, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  23. Kelby In Houston, Texas

    The Democratic Party is filled with gutless wonders who are afraid to serve the people who elected them.
    The gun toting angy uncivilized mobs that have been showing up to these town hall meetings and dominating news coverage is not the same group of people who elected you. They are not the majority. They do not represent the majority. They are the disgruntled minority pretending to be the majority. WE WANT A PUBLIC OPTION!

    August 18, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  24. Billy J Texas

    I got off my duff and donated money and time to get Democrats elected. I didn't do it because they are my 'team'. I did it because I don't believe unbridled capitalism has a place in the military, energy, or HEALTHCARE. They need to do what the Republicans did so well. That is basically ignore the minority and do it without them. THAT is why these goofballs are in office. To do what we voted them in for.

    August 18, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  25. joe

    I heard it and she said something I always thought, that sunday is a slow news day. From john King who has a meg phone on CNN to fox the noise....

    August 18, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
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