In an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said a government insurance program was “not the essential element”:
What we don’t know is exactly what the Senate Finance Committee is likely to come up. They’ve been more focused on a co-op, not-for-profit co-op as a competitor as opposed to a straight government-run program.
And I think what's important is choice and competition. And I’m convinced at the end of the day, the plan will have both of those. But that is not the essential element.
Over on “Fox News Sunday,” Sen. Kent Conrad, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, told Chris Wallace the public option is dead on arrival:
The fact of the matter is, there are not the votes in the United States Senate for the public option. There never have been. So to continue to chase that rabbit, I think, is just a wasted effort.
Meanwhile, the Congressional Black Caucus wants a second opinion.
The public option has to be on the table. For many of us, that’s the bottom line.
The public option must be central to any public health plan that we pass. Many of our constituents are uninsured and they wouldn’t have an option without a public health plan.
Health care has been a privilege and it has been exclusionary for many people. But in the wealthiest country in the world, it should be a right.
The Congressional TriCaucus, which includes the CBC, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, has outlined priorities for healthcare reform. A public health insurance option is at the top of the list.
For info on the TriCaucus’ healthcare reform priorities, go here.