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From the Associated Press: White House Appears Ready To Drop Public Option

Bowing to Republican pressure, President Barack Obama's administration signaled on Sunday it is ready to abandon the idea of giving Americans the option of government-run insurance as part of a new U.S. health care system.

Facing mounting opposition to the overhaul, administration officials left open the chance for a compromise with Republicans that would include health insurance cooperatives instead of a government-run plan. Such a concession would likely enrage his liberal supporters but could deliver Obama a much-needed win on a top domestic priority opposed by GOP lawmakers.

Officials from both political parties reached across the aisle in an effort to find compromises on proposals they left behind when they returned to their districts for an August recess. Obama had sought the government to run a health insurance organization to help cover the nation's almost 50 million uninsured, but he never made it a deal breaker in a broad set of ideas that has Republicans unified in opposition.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that government alternative to private health insurance is "not the essential element" of the administration's health care overhaul. The White House would be open to co-ops, she said, a sign that Democrats want a compromise so they can declare a victory.

"I think there will be a competitor to private insurers," Sebelius said. "That's really the essential part, is you don't turn over the whole new marketplace to private insurance companies and trust them to do the right thing." (emphasis added)


A public, government subsidized and managed health insurance program is the single most important element of ObamaCare. Virtually every policy wonk that President Obama has put in charge of health care reform is a part of the progressive cadre that has pushed for a government-run public health insurance program. The goal of such a "public health insurance option," which would necessarily have lower premiums, greater bargaining power, and eventually wider appeal than private health insurance, would be to eventually force private health insurers out of the market. Then these progressives would be free to usher in a brave new enlightened world in which medical care would be supervised, financed, and regulated solely by the Federal government. Secretary Sebelius is either a complete idiot, or she has just tried to tell one of the biggest lies in the history of New Deal-inspired Big Government policy-making.

Of course neither the White House nor Congress has yet produced anything resembling a straightforward, coherent plan for health insurance or medical treatment reforms. So we are really guessing when we speculate about these proposed "health insurance co-ops." but experts believe that they will be private insurance exchanges created by government mandate and launched with government start-up money -- kind of like AmTrak for healthcare, in other words.

Presumably these co-ops would offer inexpensive health insurance to qualified individuals (like those who are not in perfect health, or those who are self-employed or who work for an employer who can't afford health insurance benefits) and then combine these insureds into large groups for the purposes of premium rating. But after a certain amount of time, Federal subsidies are to be halted, and the co-ops would then be required to raise and maintain their own private cash reserves, similar to private insurance companies. Thus the co-ops would be "private" instead of "public" because they would no longer be funded by the government, even though they would probably be more heavily regulated than independent private insurers.

It's hard to imagine the government ever turning off the spigot when "health care" is involved, and if (or when) co-ops start to overtake private insurers, the temptation will certainly arise to pour even more Federal dollars into these co-ops, or force other private insurers to match the co-op coverages and premiums via regulatory mandates. We would be foolish to assume that liberals will ever give up the dream of creating the single-payer health system that they have wanted for decades. Plus there is the real possibility of a health care reform bill still containing a government mandate requiring proof of health insurance, especially if low-cost co-op plans are available.

But for now, if what the White House says is true, then We The People have scored an incredible victory. Liberals can poke fun at us, they can call us names and accuse us of being crazy, out-of-control ignoramuses, wild-eyed radicals, unpatriotic, unAmerican, and a threat to democracy. But President Obama and the Democrats have just blinked, big-time, because the American people have just made it very clear that we overwhelmingly trust the free market to "do the right thing", not the Federal Government.


UPDATE: From Mark Ambinder writing at The Atlantic: Administration Official: Sebelius "Misspoke"

An administration official said tonight that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius "misspoke" when she told CNN this morning that a government run health insurance option "is not an essential part" of reform. This official asked not to be identified in exchange for providing clarity about the intentions of the President. The official said that the White House did not intend to change its messaging and that Sebelius simply meant to echo the president, who has acknowledged that the public option is a tough sell in the Senate and is, at the same time, a must-pass for House Democrats, and is not, in the president's view, the most important element of the reform package.

A second official, Linda Douglass, director of health reform communications for the administration, said that President Obama believed that a public option was the best way to reduce costs and promote competition among insurance companies, that he had not backed away from that belief, and that he still wanted to see a public option in the final bill.

"Nothing has changed.," she said. "The President has always said that what is essential that health insurance reform lower costs, ensure that there are affordable options for all Americans and increase choice and competition in the health insurance market. He believes that the public option is the best way to achieve these goals."

A third White House official, via e-mail, said that Sebelius didn't misspeak. "The media misplayed it," the third official said.


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Comments (54)

"Health and Human Servi... (Below threshold)

"Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that government alternative to private health insurance is "not the essential element" of the administration's health care overhaul"

Not essential?

Funny, that's not what Obama has said:

"(A)ny plan I sign must include an insurance exchange: a one-stop shopping marketplace where you can compare the benefits, cost and track records of a variety of plans - including a public option to increase competition and keep insurance companies honest - and choose what's best for your family."

So, is Sebelius clueless, or just lying?

Beware of Trojan Horses. BS from the WH

Them rat bastards sneeked d... (Below threshold)
Tina S:

Them rat bastards sneeked death panels into law right under our noses. Right now there are government sponsored swampland.blogs.time.com/2009/08/13/oh-those-death-panels/ deciding who should live or die.

I wonder what happened to</... (Below threshold)
retired military:

I wonder what happened to

Obama - Any plan I sign must include an insurance exchange: a one-stop shopping marketplace where you can compare the benefits, cost and track records of a variety of plans - including a public option to increase competition and keep insurance companies honest - and choose what's best for your family.

tina.... did you fail to an... (Below threshold)

tina.... did you fail to answer the question posed at the end of your article?

I.E. "So either Republicans were for death panels in 2003 before turning against them now--or they're lying about end-of-life counseling in order to frighten the bejeezus out of their fellow citizens and defeat health reform by any means necessary."

Of course in your crazy whacky world only libs/progressives/dems and libturds can change positions on policy matters.

reps and conservatives... not so much.

Apparently Baraks opaque tr... (Below threshold)

Apparently Baraks opaque transparent policies have failed in their libturd intent.

Too bad, so sad.

If the Public Plan aka Obam... (Below threshold)

If the Public Plan aka Obamacare does not go through, he will say "I have always said that a public plan is not necessary." and the MSM will let that slide by.

His failure is Americas suc... (Below threshold)

His failure is Americas success.

When they blink, you wind u... (Below threshold)

When they blink, you wind up and hit them even HARDER. This is not a time to compromise! This is the time to keep pushing so they scrap HR3200 and write something reasonable from scratch, with all the stakeholders participating. Now is when we need to push so the House Of Representatives do the job they were elected to do.

The two faces of obama, via... (Below threshold)

The two faces of obama, via his NYT op-ed on Sunday:

He dirst says: "We are bound to disagree, but let's disagree over issues that are real, and not wild misrepresentations that bear no resemblance to anything that anyone has actually proposed. This is a complicated and critical issue, and it deserves a serious debate."

Then quickly follows with: "I hear more and more stories like these every single day, and it is why we are acting so urgently to pass health-insurance reform this year."

Since when does debate over critical and serious issues have to be done "urgently?"

Since the "Age of Obama," obviously, and since "we can't let a crisis go to waste".

Be very, very careful in th... (Below threshold)

Be very, very careful in thinking that the "public option" is dead.

Very, very careful.

These are conniving people we are dealing with.

In fact, the new buzz word on the table is "co-op".

Guess what that means....that's right...pretty much the same as "public option".

I'll try and find the Harry Reid quotes where he talked about that.

As Aye Chihuahua says, Bewa... (Below threshold)

As Aye Chihuahua says, Beware! A rose by any other name is still a rose.

"...experts believe that they will be private insurance exchanges created by government mandate and launched with government start-up money."

Gee, just like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. We all know how well those were managed.

And just when do the co-ops get the money turned off from Uncle Sam? AFTER they've driven private health care companies out of business?

The Post Office has a $5 BILLION payment to make this September for health care costs of retirees. The Postmaster General has stated "We don't have the money!"


We need to see the bill. I ... (Below threshold)

We need to see the bill. I will be waiting for a Trojan Horse that can easily morph into a public option.

Barack Obama is absolutely NOT to be trusted. His words mean NOTHING.

A quote comes to m... (Below threshold)

A quote comes to mind~

"You can put lipstick on a pigg, but its still Obama."

The two faces of obama, ... (Below threshold)

The two faces of obama, via his NYT op-ed on Sunday:

Ya know, I read that article earlier this morning and have thought about it a little.

Obama says that we'll save, like, a bunch of money by 1) cutting waste and inefficiency in Medicare and Medicaid, and 2) eliminating "unwarranted subsidies to insurance companies" and/or stopping tax dollars that go to "enriching insurance companies" instead of "caring for seniors."

So, I went to http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune500/2008/industries/223/index.html

to figure out how much money the big bad insurance companies make. I only looked at the top ten health insurance companies. It seems their profit for 2007 was $ 12.8 billion (on $ 241 billion in revenues).

So, if we end health insurance, and the government is at least as efficient as private insurance in administering costs (very doubtful), we'll save the $ 12.8 billion which was once the profit of the health insurance industry.

But, the CBO says that Obamacare will cost one trillion dollars over ten years, or $100 billion each year. So, if every cent of the $ 12.8 billion of the top ten insurance companies goes back into the system, we're still more than $ 87 billion short every year.

That leaves us with the "hundreds of billions of dollars in waste and inefficiency" in Medicare and Medicaid. But, why is this absurd health reform legislation needed to fix that? Wouldn't a strongly worded memo to the H&HS Secretary do just as well?

What am I missing?

I'm not buying it.... (Below threshold)

I'm not buying it.

They'll get the Republicans to compromise it into existence and once it's enabled, lock them out of conference, putting everything Obama wants into it.

They did it with the Porkulus and Cap-and-Tax. What makes you think they won't do it again?

This is not time for a happ... (Below threshold)

This is not time for a happy dance. Its time to turn up the heat.

senor Chihuahua's comment i... (Below threshold)

senor Chihuahua's comment is right on the mark...

"Be very, very careful in thinking that the "public option" is dead.

Very, very careful.

These are conniving people we are dealing with.

In fact, the new buzz word on the table is "co-op".

Guess what that means....that's right...pretty much the same as "public option"."

The Dims aren't near done with the "public" option...they didn't payoff the AARP and all the other lobbyist groups to give up on a Government-run Medinsurance program.

Keep up the heat on your Congress"person"...
Now that we got their attention - make 'em HEAR the message! A vote for Obama Health Care plan is a One-way ticket to losing their next election!

Let's plan this thoroughly and with BI-partisan support. Not a FORCED plan from Libocrats who have no CLUE what the American voter wants.

Those 'evil' insurance comp... (Below threshold)

Those 'evil' insurance companies are down at #35 on Forbes list of profitable companies. Their latest 'return on investment' was 2.2%. I get better odds at my credit union.

Barry is full of shit. Mr. Platitudes. Mr. Soundbite. He wants to add an ill-defined "uninsured" group of 47 million to the current system which is and has been running deficits for years. The baby boomers (all 73 MILLION - born between 1943-60) have started to arrive on Social Security/Medicare's doorstep. We'll have FEWER workers making contributions to the system, yet covering MORE people; and Barry will do it with LESS money.

Yeah, and I'm the tooth fairy.

"Yeah, and Im the tooth ... (Below threshold)

"Yeah, and Im the tooth fairy."

Yeah, but He is the one, the Godsend, the hope of all mankind. He can do anything He sets His mind too... Accept maybe... Turn a profit and be a + for the Country.

Words mean nothing when the... (Below threshold)
jim m:

Words mean nothing when they come from Obama. Let's see a bill.

Until there is draft text of a bill that constitutes the reform proposal that the Dems are putting forth that aligns with Obama's BS all we have is an empty promise and what amounts to a subterfuge to get the bill passed as is.

He has been saying that the bill doesn't do exactly what everyone reads that it does so why should anyone believe that he means this.

It is easier for me to believe that he will say that they've taken it out and then just leave it in and the MSM will cover for him.

Heck, congress will fall all over themselves saying that it has been taken out even if it hasn't since they seem utterly incapable of actually reading anything they vote on.

What you're witnessing here... (Below threshold)

What you're witnessing here ladies and gentlemen is a fantastic example of the classic "bait & switch".

Remember what I said earlier. These are conniving people. They have a goal in mind and will do whatever, and crush whoever they need to in order to accomplish the goal.

Here's what Harry Reid had to say back in July:

"We're going to have some type of public option, call it 'co-op,' call it what you want."


Senator Schumer:

"We don't care what it's called.


They can call it "Titanic" ... (Below threshold)

They can call it "Titanic" "Hindenburg" or "Barak Obama" and it will all end up in the same place. A graveyard, a junkyard or working at Montgomery Ward.

Of course, he has had his u... (Below threshold)

Of course, he has had his union and 'ACORN' thugs pushing the original plan, and he has forced Democrats to defend the plan as it was written (Developed and written WITHOUT input from the GOP BTW).

Another case of kicking whoever he has to under the bus. I say kicked under the bus, because they committed themselves and their resources to the plan currently in process, nd now look like cheap thugs and cowards in the eyes of the voters, while he scrambles for cover.

But Obama has damaged his Presidency by continuing to use the tactics of a cheap Chicago political bully; and then whining about getting smacked down by those he tried to victimize.

So, is Tina S the only trol... (Below threshold)

So, is Tina S the only troll dumb enough to show Her ignorance here? Or are the rest of the "Rat pack" recieving new directives as We cautiously applause their well deserved failure?

Ha ha.. 3 minutes will tell.

Barry appears not to grasp ... (Below threshold)
Occam's Beard:

Barry appears not to grasp the concept behind insurance: namely, to have interest-free access to other people's money to invest, and thereby to make money from those investments. They don't make the big bucks from premiums.

To anyone who doubts this: why does American Express push Traveler's Checks?

Dey all jes pausin t reload... (Below threshold)

Dey all jes pausin t reload dats all.

The current leftist line is... (Below threshold)
Jeff Blogworthy:

The current leftist line is that if any private company accepts federal assistance, then that company has tacitly granted federal control over its business.

How much more so over this government-created but privately-run "co-op?" Yeah, that's what I thought. Color me skeptical.

Well seeing as private comp... (Below threshold)

Well seeing as private companys and employees pay the taxes that fund the federal assistance hypothetically recieved... Sounds like it should be the other way around somehow?

Go back to the drawing boar... (Below threshold)

Go back to the drawing board is right. I hope the RINO's don't start reaching out their hands to make a deak for the September vote that Obama wants. They will once again find a 3AM 300 page ammendment with enough vague language that Dem's will use to resurrect the public option.

To me there is only one option, SLOW DOWN and START OVER. We're sick of the emergency cram down legislation.

#30And every fortu... (Below threshold)


And every fortune cookie is only as good as the cats and dogs who gave there all to make it possible.

Bowing to REPUBLICAN<... (Below threshold)

Bowing to REPUBLICAN pressure?

They can't even lose gracefully, blaming their mistakes on a Republican Party that did not have to provide one single vote in either house to pass.


Lol!That is... (Below threshold)


That is kind of ridiculous isnt it? The pantywaists have the frickin majority they always had wet dreams about yet somehow theres no action in their nether regions?

Sounds terminal.

To add upon that... I guess... (Below threshold)

To add upon that... I guess they need a hundred percent liberal vote tally before they have the balls to vote for it.. And then when it inevitably leads to failure ..They just blame Buusshh...So whats the freakin hold up?

Oh yeah, they dont wanna look bad while lyin thru their taxpayer funded dentalwork.

Obama...UP YOURS.....with a... (Below threshold)

Obama...UP YOURS.....with a colonoscope. But
beware...if a doctor finds a polyp, he may
opt to cut off your foot, to make $50,000
you quoted to the world in a town hall. These
damned doctors should be put yearly in front
of a committee set up by your "Medical Czar"
and dealt with appropriately, with severe fines
all the way up to firing squads.Damn those
doctors, Obama, but GOD BLESS YOU!

Remember who you're dealing... (Below threshold)
Mike G in Corvallis:

Remember who you're dealing with here.

You may think you've won. The separate bills passed by the House and Senate may appear to be innocuous ... but that's where the fun starts! There's this little matter of reconciling the two bills ...

If the House and Senate pass different bills, they're sent to a Conference Committee in which members from each house meet in private to work out the differences. The Conference Committee usually consists of senior members who are appointed by the presiding officers of the committee that originally dealt with the bill -- guess who they would be? They fiddle around with the legislation to produce a compromise to be submitted to each chamber; during this process all sorts of interesting things can be slipped into the final wording of the compromise bill. Then the compromise is approved by both the House and the Senate, often with little or no debate. And then the President signs it into law ...

Then, and only then, does the public find out what the real legislation says.

Whaddaya wanna bet that the bill the President signs turns out to have all sorts of delightful tidbits in it that nobody will admit to noticing at the time, but are impossible to change after the bill becomes law?

You know how we're told tha... (Below threshold)

You know how we're told that Canadian or Brit style health care's much 'better' for us? Looks like they're not at all convinced of that.

The Canadian Press: Overhauling health-care system tops agenda at annual meeting of Canada's doctors

SASKATOON -- The incoming president of the Canadian Medical Association says this country's health-care system is sick and doctors need to develop a plan to cure it.

Dr. Anne Doig says patients are getting less than optimal care and she adds that physicians from across the country - who will gather in Saskatoon on Sunday for their annual meeting - recognize that changes must be made.

"We all agree that the system is imploding, we all agree that things are more precarious than perhaps Canadians realize," Doing said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

"We know that there must be change," she said. "We're all running flat out, we're all just trying to stay ahead of the immediate day-to-day demands."
Imploding? Must be change? Sounds like there's something seriously wrong, doesn't there?
The pitch for change at the conference is to start with a presentation from Dr. Robert Ouellet, the current president of the CMA, who has said there's a critical need to make Canada's health-care system patient-centred. He will present details from his fact-finding trip to Europe in January, where he met with health groups in England, Denmark, Belgium, Netherlands and France.

His thoughts on the issue are already clear. Ouellet has been saying since his return that "a health-care revolution has passed us by," that it's possible to make wait lists disappear while maintaining universal coverage and "that competition should be welcomed, not feared."

In other words, Ouellet believes there could be a role for private health-care delivery within the public system.

Bureaucracies tend to drift at times, and turn a function designed to provide a service into a function designed to provide jobs within the bureaucracy - unless severe steps are taken.

Private industry HAS to operate at a profit to survive, and in order to make a profit has to keep the customers at least marginally satisifed. (Enough so that they don't bail and go elsewhere.) Therefore they've got an incentive to innovate and keep the customer happy as possible.

But when you've got folks representing a group within a government-run system proclaiming that things are 'imploding' - then you're not far away from serious reform.

Barack Obama "fixed" too mu... (Below threshold)

Barack Obama "fixed" too much spending in government by quadrupling the deficit and doubling the debt.

You can only imagine what he'll do with health care.

The White House hasn't chan... (Below threshold)

The White House hasn't changed its mind. It's just being "recalibrated".

Like we have no more terrorist attacks any more - just "man made disasters". That helped a lot, as I recall.

It's a mistake to think that Obama and the Lefties in Congress have changed their minds about ANYTHING.

Looks like bobdog got it ri... (Below threshold)

Looks like bobdog got it right.


I'm not the only one wondering if Obama tossed this out just to see how the foaming lefties would react to it.

As certain commenters above... (Below threshold)

As certain commenters above have noted above, Obama will pass a compromise bill (bi-partisan), and that compromise bill will indeed be a "first step". The insurance industry is even now "buying in" under the rubric of cost controls. I repeat, the insurance industry is buying in to it. It's all over.

(I think this final line of capitalist defense dissolved as it became generally acknowledged that the hospital service redoubt based on profit= quality was not sound, per the Kaiser Permenente (non-profit) exemplar. That was in July.)

Obama will claim political victory over the issue by October. BTW I suspect Rep. John Sullivan (R-OK), ACA rating +90, will vote Aye, as will many other freshman and sophomore Republicans in the House. On the Senate side there are only 5 hardcore conservative Republicans left. They will vote Nay. For what that's worth. Anyway, the bill produced will pass the senate.

Bryan you are so full of sh... (Below threshold)

Bryan you are so full of sh_ _.

The silver-tongued One shal... (Below threshold)

The silver-tongued One shall change the terms to give Americans warm fuzzy's instead of cold pricklies.

Death-Panel now = Life Extension Advisory Committee

Public-Option = Coop, possibly government backed Coop

Tax = Service Fee

With loopholes in all of them that allow for expansion and control of private health insurance companies.

"It's all over".....'cause ... (Below threshold)

"It's all over".....'cause Bryan says so.

Check the 'Cash for Clunkers' program Bryan. Only 2% of dealers have been reimbursed for vehicles taken in. Several are owed millions. Paperwork is being rejected for minor errors.

And you want Barry to run health care?

Hey Bryan!How's th... (Below threshold)

Hey Bryan!

How's that 'economic recovery' going?


Bryan, more good news... (Below threshold)

Bryan, more good news

Bryan, more good news!... (Below threshold)
Thanks, GarandFan -<p... (Below threshold)

Thanks, GarandFan -

Great quote from the article:

""I've got a lot on my plate, and it's very important for us to sequence these big initiatives in a way where they don't all just crash at the same time," the president said in response to a reporter's question.

Naah - it's best the initiatives all crash at different times so we can feel pain for an extended period. Then our kids and grand-kids can feel extended pain bailing the country out of Teh One's (and the rest of the Socialist Dems') mess.

I have to agree with Bryan ... (Below threshold)
Upset Old Guy:

I have to agree with Bryan D on one of his points: Obama, Democrat that his is (or should that be Democratic that he is? That point is very confusing to me), will claim political victory over the issue... regardless of the outcome. Even if he's standing over the bloody corpse of their health care bill, he'll boast on how he caused this great national debate on health care and how that makes it all worth while. Just like our buddy Vic, whatever the results, he will claim a victory.

But declaring victory doesn't amount to much, what more important is who is willing to believe you.

Frying Bryan.. Up Yours and... (Below threshold)
914_62 Jeff:

Frying Bryan.. Up Yours and the corncob You rode in on dumbshit.

Bryan is now just a sad, li... (Below threshold)

Bryan is now just a sad, little loser of a lib. So funny

Like our politicians declar... (Below threshold)

Like our politicians declared victory in Vietnam just when we pulled out and turned our backs on the bloodbath that followed.

It's for your own good, America. Drink it. Drink it!

You got it, Bobdog!... (Below threshold)
Upset Old Guy:

You got it, Bobdog!

This really is amateur hour... (Below threshold)

This really is amateur hour isn't is?

First we have...

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said....

Followed by...

An administration official said tonight that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius "misspoke"

Then they finish with....

A third White House official, via e-mail, said that Sebelius didn't misspeak. "The media misplayed it," ...

"Check the 'Cash for Clunke... (Below threshold)

"Check the 'Cash for Clunkers' program Bryan."-gf

Bad program. Middle class welfare.

"Only 2% of dealers have been reimbursed for vehicles taken in."-gf

I'm only an 11th grade drop-out, but doesn't this go under "accounts recievable" or some such?

"Several are owed millions."-gf

That's a BIG car lot!

"Paperwork is being rejected for minor errors."-gf

It should be. Accounts department quality should not be held hostage to the boss's daughter's attention span.

"And you want Barry to run health care?"-gf

No profiteering at the expense of the Commonweal. Thx. Call me old-fashioned in an emancipated nationalist Bismarckian way, i.e. pitching in always works when the neccessities of life are seen to be addressed which results in strength through brotherhood. Even a cynic like moi understands the western impetus toward progress (power). Now, we're just going broke while spinning our wheels while basing opposition upon notions of class and racial divisions and envy. 90% of the opposition is a Pavlovian construct baked by pantloads on a hotplate in the bathroom of a flophouse, 10% is well-considered.






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