Mixed Messages on the Public Plan

In June, I asked President Obama if inclusion of the government-run public plan in health care reform was non-negotiable.

“We have not drawn lines in the sand, other than that reform has to control costs and that it has to provide relief to people who don't have health insurance or are under-insured,” the president said. “You know, those are the broad parameters that we've discussed. There are a whole host of other issues where ultimately I may have a strong opinion, and I will express those to members of Congress as this is shaping up. It's too early to say that. Right now, I will say that our position is that a public plan makes sense.”

But that same month in a presidential address the president said “any plan I sign must include an insurance exchange: a one-stop shopping marketplace where you can compare the benefits, cost and track records of a variety of plans – including a public option to increase competition and keep insurance companies honest – and choose what’s best for your family.”

Over the weekend, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that the public plan is not “essential,” and the president said “the public option, whether we have it or we don’t have it, is not the entirety of health care reform. This is just one sliver of it, one aspect of it, and by the way it’s both the right and the left that have become so fixated on this that they forget everything else.” We took a look at this all on Good Morning America:


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