September 13th, 2009
12:49 PM ET
13 years ago

Gibbs: For congressional Dems, public option 'a means to an end'

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Less than a week after the White House released the details of its own plan for health care reform, the Obama administration continued to send mixed signals about its commitment to a public health insurance option as part of an overall reform package.

“The goal of the public option . . . is to provide choice and competition,” White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union.

Gibbs also said that a public health insurance option, if enacted as part of a health care reform bill, would only be of use to those people in the private insurance market seeking individual coverage or coverage for a small number of employees as many small businesses do.

“So hundreds of millions of people that get their insurance like you and I do,” Gibbs told Chief National Correspondent John King, “through [larger] employers won’t be affected by a public option.”

President Obama “prefers the public option,” Gibbs also said, “however [Obama said what’s most important is choice and competition.”

“For our Democratic friends,” Gibbs added, “the public option is a means to an end, but it’s not all of health care [reform].”

Filed under: Democrats • Health care • Robert Gibbs • State of the Union
soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. keith

    lets see, the world's largest and wealthiest Christian nation refuses to help all of its citizens access to basic affordable universal healthcare. And all of the modern nations that are basically atheist have felt the moral obligation to make sure all of our citizens receive heathcare. Those that think that the USA is the best country should re-evaluate their nation and their personal values.

    September 13, 2009 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  2. Doug

    How is the White House and The President not the Status Quo? If the President is leading the country, how can he fight the Status Quo? This has got to be the biggest distortion in politics, he says he is fighting himself to get something done. If he would just do something to create jobs, start hiring people to buy their health care and support their families. He says he owns it, no we own GM, AiG, he only is the warranty master.

    September 13, 2009 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  3. Jim, Williamsburg, VA

    Gibbs (and Obama) need to understand that mainstream Americans don't trust this Administration. The Stimulus Package and budgetary actions spoiled any chance for meaningful health care reform.

    September 13, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  4. Mark

    More public welfare the country cant afford. Wait and see what happens to politicians that support it on 2010!

    September 13, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  5. rj

    I still don't know what health care reform means. I am unpersauded that both parties can reduce the cost of health care / insurance premiums.

    Why don't they just open up competition to make rates more affordable to the illegal aliens.

    September 13, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  6. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    The mixed messages and sheer complexity of Obama's overreaching healthcare agenda are why "public option" has been politically dead for quite awhile.

    September 13, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  7. Post always rejected by CNN

    WE WANT THE PUBLIC OPTION. We do not want a give away to the drug and health companies. Without the public option big Pharma has won. And that is all they are spending all the money for to defeat the public option. After all republicans know if they don't get the public option out, their MONEY FROM PHARMA LOBBYIST will dry up. They don't care about the public, their main concern is money money money for themselves.

    They need to kick the lobbyist out of congress...that's the only way the republicans will do what they are elected for, support the people.

    September 13, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  8. Terry, TX

    Let's see....the Nation has no faith that a govt who has Medicare, Social Security and the Post Office going broke....who still hasn't paid the car dealerships their money from the Cash for going to run 1/6 of the medical industry....for another trillion dollars....and run it right and just tank the medical world. Ha! They talk about all this fraud money they are going to get....well go get it...get it right now....don't talk about 25 million who need health insurance....should not be the reason to takeover the insurance of 305 million people.
    Look at HR3400....portability, remove pre conditions, tax credits, no illegal aliens to benefit...and take the time to do it right.....remember anybody who has a medical problem knows that they walk into any emergency room and get treated....

    September 13, 2009 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  9. Denna

    I think that President Obama should move full steam ahead and get this thing done. Joe Wilson and the Republican party have already indicated that their support-cooperation is almost non-existent. The few Republicans who would cooperate are being intimidated by Rush & Co. So it will be up to the Democrats to make this work. I feel sorry for country as rich as this one is and they don't want to share with all. A great many of you who are in good shape now, may not be in the next few months so be selfish and think of yourselves, even it it helps other.

    September 13, 2009 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  10. Death Panel Sarah

    I love how the 'cons' keep saying we have the best healthcare, when we are actually 37th in the world. All of Europe has better healthcare(with government involvement). We are the proud possessor of one of the only healthcare systems that does not involve the government.....maybe the rest of the world knows something we don't???

    September 13, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  11. Mike from WI

    NO, a public option is the ONLY means to that end. Health care Cooperatives will not work because they will be too small and scatted to have the marketing leverage that a public option would have. The Democrats need to get it in their head that their constituency will also hold them accountable for dropping the public option. I know I won't vote for those who decide to turn their backs on a public option.

    September 13, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  12. Ted J.

    The national debt is now 11.8 trillion.

    September 13, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  13. annie against biased news

    Even obama has not read the HR3200 and has of right now there is no other bill out there and all the things he says are not going to be are in this bill – so Wilson was right!

    September 13, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  14. Russell, NC

    Why can't Obama take a stand and stick with it? He is just flapping in the wind.

    September 13, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  15. Fan of Common Sense

    If the democrats REALLY wanted to increase competition there are no less than 100 things they could do that woud make much much more sense than a government takeover. The reason they don't is because the democrats don't want competition. They want CONTROL CONTROL CONTROL. The more the federal government controls our everday lives, the firmer the democrats' hold on power.

    September 13, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  16. Peter

    This is how capitalism works in modern America! screw thy neigbor left and right and if he/she complains just brand him/her a socialist. Greediness have moved this great Nation from the Ethos of Capitalistic market to Monetarism " An economic concept which contends that changes in the money supply are the most significant determinants of the rate of economic growth and the behavior of the business cycle" and the trickle down theory. Results are total failure in the market! do people learn anything from the Enron scandal?

    September 13, 2009 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  17. No Hillary = No Obama

    I wonder if Obama really cares about health care or anything else for that matter. I think he's just trying to go down in history as the "1st" Black President; the "1st" president to get health reform passed, the "1st" this and that. All this guy knows how to do is give speeches and spend money.

    September 13, 2009 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  18. fereddie

    Health reform now, public ooption somewhere in the future

    September 13, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  19. Bill R in Oakland

    Keith, please be careful in referring to the U.S. as a "Christian" nation, and other as "basically atheist". Yes, Christian is a dominant religion in this country but we also have many other faiths and some who don't practice any religion.

    That being said, I agree we should redirect our priorities away from expensive stupid wars of choice and provide more for the welfare of our citizens like other countries do.

    September 13, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  20. MVDCT

    For the adminstration to continue to assert that those of us who have insurance won't be affected by a public option is disingenious. A soon as insurance companies are forced to take individuals with pre-existing conditions, eliminate all yearly or lifetimne and get socked with vene more mandates from the federal goverment, businesses won't be able to affored coverage and then drop their health plans like flies. Everyone will be forced into the public option – which by the way, has anyone even talked about type of benefit that will be – a bare bones plan, I bet. The public option is this liberals first step in seizing control of our health care – anyone says otherwise is lying.

    September 13, 2009 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  21. Mike in MN

    If it really is no big deal, why are so many Dems insisting on it?
    The real reason is because it builds the structure to some day move to a single payer system, which is what Obama is on record countless times in past years saying he really wants. He is even on video giving a union speech where he says that he wants a government run single payer health care system, but that you can't get rid of employer based private insurance overnight. It will have to be phased out over 10, 15, 20 years. I firmly believe that is what the public option is all about, the start of phasing out private insurance and moving to a single payer system which Obama has openly supported for years.

    September 13, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  22. America Shrugged

    Regulating the health insurance industry is fine until the the GOP get in power (yes, it will happen) and writes a bill to deregulate any healthcare reform. We've seen it with the financial industry. It's got to be medicare for all. Why reinvent the wheel? The only issue is how to pay for it. There is plenty of $ to trim from subsidies, DOD spending, and pork projects. Let big business actually be capitalists for a change and manage on their own.

    September 13, 2009 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  23. ge

    A friend of mine sister married an american they lived in florida both work at same place she becme american citzen things were good for 17 yrs. free trade sent there jobs to mexico had money problems got divorsed on a resent vist i asked her if she had health insurance she said no iam a wattres i make more in tip than wages can,t aford h. c i said what do you do if you get sick she said she goes to emergecy i said do hope universal health care she said no its goverment run i said who pays for emergency she said the goverment but in a few years she could apply for medicare does your employer have pesion plan she said no but i can get social security i said would you ever vote democratic she said no there socialist i decided the deference between a democrate and a republican is I Q CANADA

    September 13, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  24. Mike in NY

    Sad how the conversation (?) has moved away from health CARE to health care INSURANCE. Oh! Wait! It never was about care. It has always been about money. The insurance companies can't seem to make enough of it. Collect premiums and refuse care – that's the ticket!!

    Perhaps things have not yet gotten bad enough that the government will be forced to intervene. How many more uninsured will it take until that happens? How much pain, suffering and unnecessary deaths will it take before that happens?

    So sad...

    September 13, 2009 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |