Message From The White House: The President Is Not Backing Away From The Public Plan
The White House continues its efforts to calm the concerns of allies.
The Associated Press: "White House spokesman Robert Gibbs insists the Obama administration has not shifted its goals on health care reform or distanced itself from a government-run public insurance option." He told reporters today that stories indicating the Obama administration was backing away from including the public option in its push to overhaul the health system were "overblown." Those reports were triggered over the weekend when Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius appeared "to signal" the president's openness to health care cooperatives. "Gibbs said there was no intention to indicate a change in policy. He said, 'If it was a signal, it was a dog whistle we started blowing weeks ago'" (8/18).
CNN: The Obama administration is working "to reassure jittery supporters Monday that President Obama is not abandoning the fight for a public health insurance option." The latest came "amid a media firestorm ignited over the weekend by administration officials seeming to indicate a willingness to drop such an option in order to secure congressional approval of a health care reform bill." But the "verbal maneuvering" shows the political difficulties the administration is facing as it tries "to balance the competing priorities of the more conservative Senate and the more liberal House of Representatives. In a written statement, White House aide Linda Douglass said the president has maintained that health insurance reform must "lower costs, ensure that there are affordable options for all Americans, and it must increase choice and competition in the health insurance market. ... He believes the public option is the best way to achieve those goals" (Bash and Henry, 8/18).
MSNBC's First Read: In a Tuesday morning speech to a group of Medicare fraud prevention advocates, Secretary Sebelius clarified her comments from ABC's This Week that were interpreted by some that the White House was shifting its support away from the public option. She told the audience that "Sunday must have been a very slow news day, because here's the bottom line: absolutely nothing has changed. ... We continue to support the public option that will help lower costs, give American consumers more choice and keep private insurers honest." MSNBC also reports that she said the public plan would work "side-by-side" with private insurers to give consumers more choices -- which is the administration's goal" (Cline,8/18).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.