Sebelius: Insurers Can’t Block Public Option; Cost Estimates Off Target
In an interview with the Associated Press Tuesday, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said, "I think there is a lot of understanding that the private market has really failed to provide affordable coverage to Americans." She said President Obama's goal in supporting a public insurance plan isn't to "drive insurers out of business, but make them more competitive," the AP reports. She said insurers would not be able to block legislation creating the government-run plan because public opinion and congressional momentum were behind it.
Sebelius also "stressed that Obama is open to compromise on the shape of the public plan, which doesn't have to be run by the government," the AP reports. However, she predicted that "if a fight over the plan did break out, the insurers would lose."
She told the AP that while it could take years to bring coverage to all uninsured Americans, the early estimates for the cost and expanded coverage of legislation in the senate were off target, suggesting that $1 trillion could be enough to attain full coverage. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee's plan would cost $1 trillion over ten years, but only cover one-third of the uninsured, the Congressional Budget Office said Monday (Alonso-Zaldivar and Werner, 6/16).