Sebelius Tells CNN, Public Option Is Not An “Essential Element”
The mask comes off as the Secretary for Health and Human Services tells the host of CNN’s “State of the Union” this morning that the public option is not an “essential element.”
According to Reuters, Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that:
A public insurance option was “not the essential element” of any overhaul, and non-profit cooperatives being considered by a Senate panel could also fulfill the White House goal of creating more competition on insurance.
Not only that, but Sebelius said that President Obama doesn’t want the health care debate to “focus” on the public option aspect. In recent weeks, conservatives have been astroturfing town hall meetings on health care across the nation claiming that any type of government run health care debate would lead to “socialism,” or to a government take over of health care, which would put private insurers out of business.
Progressive Democrats in the House have been fighting to keep a public option in its latest bill. Before Congress went into recess, the public option was watered down by Blue Dog Democrats during final negotiations.
Sebelius’ statement on the public option are troubling to progressives that want to see some form of government run plan, which would compete with the for-profit insurance companies and drive costs down.
Reuters mentioned that at the Senate an alternative to a public option is already being worked out, which would seek to satisfy public option advocates — they’re called “non-profit health cooperatives.” Democrat Senator Kent Conrad and others in the Senate have backed up such an alternative in the past.
According to Reuters:
Six members of the Senate Finance Committee — three from each party — have been negotiating a reform package that would feature member-controlled non-profit health cooperatives instead of the government-run plan.
“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.”
Non-profit health cooperatives would be government funded and provide $6 billion in seed money to get them started. Republicans already oppose this alternative, saying that non-profit cooperatives would do the same thing that a public option would, which is put private insurers out of business.