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White House May Drop 'Public Health Care Option'

US Politics & Gov't  (tags: healthcare, Obama, Sebelius, drop, public option, Congress )

- 3322 days ago -
WASHINGTON -- Apparently ready to abandon the idea, President Barack Obama's health secretary said Sunday a government alternative to private health insurance is "not the essential element" of the administration's health care overhaul.


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David Petrosky (113)
Sunday August 16, 2009, 9:12 am
WASHINGTON—Apparently ready to abandon the idea, President Barack Obama's health secretary said Sunday a government alternative to private health insurance is "not the essential element" of the administration's health care overhaul.

The White House indicated it could jettison the contentious public option and settle on insurance cooperatives as an acceptable alternative, a move embraced by some Republicans lawmakers who have strongly opposed the administration's approach so far.

Officials from both political parties reached across the aisle in an effort to find compromises on proposals they left behind when they returned to their districts for an August recess. Obama has been pressing for the government to run a health insurance organization to help cover the nation's almost 50 million uninsured.

Sebelius said the White House would be open to co-ops instead of a government-run public option, a sign Democrats want a compromise so they can declare a victory on the must-win showdown.

"I think there will be a competitor to private insurers," she 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. We need some choices, we need some competition."

Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., said co-ops might be a politically acceptable alternative as "a step away from the government takeover of the health care system" that the GOP has assailed.

Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., chairman of the Senate's budget committee, pushed the co-op model as an alternative, saying it has worked in other business models.

As proposed by Conrad, the co-ops would receive federal startup money, but then would operate independently of the government. They would have to maintain the same financial reserves that private companies are required to keep to handle unexpectedly high claims.

Republicans say a public option would have unfair advantages that would drive private insurers out of business. Critics say co-ops would not be genuine public options for health insurance.

Meanwhile, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said he would return to the bargaining sessions to find a bipartisan solution to a health care problem that has long vexed Washington.

"I'm always ready to go back to the bargaining table," Hatch said. "Heck, I've probably helped pass more bipartisan health care legislation than anybody I know."

That legislation, however, seemed likely to strike end-of-life counseling sessions. Former Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin has called the session "death panels," a label that has drawn rebuke from her fellow Republicans as well as Democrats.

Even so, Sebelius said the proposal was likely to be dropped from the final bill.

"We wanted to make sure doctors were reimbursed for that very important consultation if family members chose to make it, and instead it's been turned into this scare tactic and probably will be off the table," she said. "And that's not good news for the American public and not good news for family members."

Sebelius spoke on CNN's "State of the Union" and ABC's "This Week." Shelby and Conrad appeared on "Fox News Sunday." Hatch was interviewed on "This Week."

Blue Bunting (855)
Sunday August 16, 2009, 10:36 am
Keep the pressure on! Did YOU write a letter, send a FAX or make a phone call for single payer/public option doay? If you didn't then don't complain.

So, thanks to Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY), Speaker Pelosi says she will bring a vote to the floor on single-payer after the recess. Are you all ready to make those phone calls and write those letters?

Nancy's contact info..

Send our speaker an e-mail of encouragement.

Blue Bunting (855)
Sunday August 16, 2009, 10:59 am
COMPARE health care in:



USA videos

I wish Wendell Potter was a household name right now. His message and perspective is arguably as important as any in the country. Potter first came to public attention about a month ago, when he sat down with PBS's Bill Moyers. We learned that he's a former executive at a major health insurance company, who's become a whistleblower, explaining the way the industry "put profits before patients" and is doing everything possible to block health care reform now.

Slowly but surely, he's gaining more prominence. Last night, he spoke with CNN's Anderson Cooper, who almost seemed surprised by what he heard.

"The way it works is that the [insurance] industry will hire big PR firms that create these front groups that have names that have no association with the insurance industry," Potter said." And it is these front groups that do the things that you're seeing right now that try to destroy health care reform by using terms like 'government takeover' of the health care system. Or we're heading down toward a 'slippery slope toward socialism.' Or we're going to 'kill your grandpa' because of this health care reform bill.

Cooper asked, "You're saying that language is written by insurance companies?" Potter responded, "Absolutely."

Asked about the right-wing activists, Potter explained that the industry has "very close ties with the conservative radio talk show hosts and commentators and editorial page writers and they feed the talking points."

Potter also spoke to Rachel Maddow this week. "I think that the health insurance industry deserves a great deal of the blame because they're very much behind the town hall disruptions that you see and a lot of the deception that's going on in terms of disinformation that many Americans apparently are believing," he explained.

Asked about a public option, and whether private insurance companies would be able to compete alongside a government-run non-profit plan, Potter added, "Well, they could, absolutely. I've seen the health insurance industry change its business models many, many times. The insurance companies who operate now are very different from the companies that operated a few years ago. They adapt very quickly. And the one thing they know how to do is make money."

Here's hoping that Potter, given his background and unique insights, gets a whole lot more media opportunities.

Nancy L (141)
Tuesday August 18, 2009, 8:56 am
I sent all my letters, faxes and emails today

Blue Bunting (855)
Tuesday August 18, 2009, 9:28 pm
CODE BLUERockefeller, Feingold, Pelosi Call Public Option Essential
Don't Panic. Howard Dean Says Bill Will Pass - With The Public Option

Gibbs: Nothing Has Changed, We Are Still Expecting The Public Option

The News of Its Death Is Greatly Exaggerated
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