Public Option, Abortion Funding Unlikely In Final Health Reform Bill
News coverage of the Sunday talk shows centered around whether a "public option" will be included in health overhaul legislation.
Associated Press: The White House and its Democratic allies on Sunday tried to play down the role of a government insurance option in health care legislation as the party in power worked to reclaim momentum on President Barack Obama's top domestic priority. His spokesman described the public option as just one way to achieve Obama's goal of providing coverage to the estimated 45 uninsured Americans without insurance. His senior adviser contended the White House was ready to accept that Congress would reject the idea, though he, too, said it was an option, not a make-or-break choice (Elliott, 9/13).
Reuters: "A key group of U.S. senators was 'very close' to agreement on healthcare reform, one of its members said on Sunday, suggesting Congress was nearer to meeting President Barack Obama's goal of passing a reform bill this year. 'We think we are very close to an agreement,' said Senator Kent Conrad, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee and part of the "Gang of Six" bipartisan group that is trying to forge consensus, on 'Fox News Sunday.' Lawmakers have struggled to find common ground in the debate over healthcare reform, hampering Obama's efforts to push through his top domestic policy priority" (Kaiser, 9/13).
CBS News: "Moderate Republican Senator Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) said a public option in the health care bill is 'universally opposed by all Republicans in the Senate' and called it 'a roadblock to building the kind of consensus that we need to move forward,' on 'Face the Nation' Sunday. '[T]herefore, there's no way to pass a plan that includes the public option,' she told moderator Bob Schieffer. She said that the president 'should be more specific' on where he stands on the public option ... She said flexibility on the public option could lead to compromise in the Senate on other issues but lamented that the president has made the debate 'unpredictable.'
"Snowe was the first to recommend the possibility of the trigger option which would set a deadline for insurance companies to provide affordable coverage. 'It's not on the table. And it won't be' in the Senate Finance Committee, she admitted though" (Levi, 9/13).
Related KHN story: Obama's Speech Leaves Room For Snowe's Compromise To Put Off Public Option
CQ Politics reports that also on 'Fox News Sunday,' Missouri Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill "noted that the 'public option in some ways has become a distraction. The meat of this matter is that we're losing 14,000 Americans from health insurance every day. The meat of the matter is that most middle-class families are worried that they won't be able to afford health insurance next year. And the bottom line is any deficit hawk cannot look you in the eye and honestly say we can do anything about the deficit if we don't bring down health care costs."" (9/13).
Meanwhile, The Washington Times writes that "A top White House aide said Sunday that the thousands of conservative 'tea party' demonstrators who marched in Washington on Saturday were 'wrong' because they represent only a fringe section of society. 'I don't think it's indicative of the nation's mood,' David Axelrod, the president's top adviser, said on CBS' 'Face the Nation.' 'My message to them is, they're wrong.' A major catalyst of the rally -- as well as the many protests staged at congressional town hall meetings nationwide last month -- was President Obama's push for health care reform, which conservatives have blasted as an egregious example of government expansion and intrusion."
"I don't believe that some of the angriest, most strident voices we saw during the summer were representative of the thousands of town hall meetings that went on around the country that came off peacefully, that were constructive," he said (Lengell. 9/13).
Finally, on ABC's "This Week page, George Stephanopoulos writes:" "HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told me on 'This Week' the President will go beyond language in a House bill to make sure no public money goes to pay for abortions under health care reform. Abortion foes argue language in the House bill has too many holes and that taxpayers could potentially subsidize abortions. Sebelius told me there will be no uncertainty with the President's plan."
"In fact recently the Catholic bishops came out, after the President's statement saying that his statement about what he intends in the plan that no public fund would go to fund abortion and the fact that he has come out firmly for insuring all Americans and saying that it's a moral issue as well as an economic issue and they endorsed moving forward. I think the legislative language will reflect what the President has just said" (9/13).