Sebelius: Public Option Not Essential
Also, Dem sen. calls Obama's health care pitch a 'wasted effort'
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 16, 2009 9:57 AM CDT

(Newser) – Liberal lawmakers are demanding that a public option be included in a final health care reform package, but top Obama administration officials seemed to hedge on the subject today, Politico reports. On Face the Nation, Robert Gibbs said “thus far” President Obama sees a government-funded system as the best way to increase competition in the private insurance market, while on State of the Union, Kathleen Sebelius said a public option “is not the essential element” of reform.

Elsewhere on the health care front:

  • Sebelius said she supports controversial end-of-life counseling and that Obama’s frequent promise to allow Americans the option of keeping their current insurance coverage isn’t airtight.
  • Sen. Kent Conrad called the public option a “wasted effort” and dismissed Obama’s Sept. 15 deadline for a new bill. “We are going to be ready when we’re ready,” the Democrat told Fox News Sunday.
  • On NBC, Former House Majority leader Dick Armey called Medicare “tyranny” because seniors are forced to participate, and Sen. Tom Coburn said Congress has “earned” the mistrust of American voters.
  • Reacting to the fierce questioning he received last week at his town hall meeting, Sen. Arlen Specter told This Week, “We have to bear in mind that although those people need to be heard and have a right to be heard, they're not really representative of America.”