Speaking to CBS News’ Face the Nation on Sunday, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs emphasized that President Barack Obama still supports having a “public option” for health care, which the White House believes will introduce additional competition and lower prices in the insurance market.
The statement runs contrary to claims by other officials and reports circulating other media on Sunday.
Heath and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, speaking to CNN’s John King on Sunday, said the public option is not “essential” and that consumer choice, market competition and reform of private health insurance regulations should be the focus of the debate.
Later Sunday, Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) told Fox News anchor Chris Wallace that the U.S. Senate will not allow a public option, adding his belief that, “to continue to chase that rabbit is just a wasted effort.”
The comments led the Associated Press and right-wing news aggregator Matt Drudge to report the White House has given up on supporting a public option.
But Sebelius, who as health secretary would presumably be in charge of a public health care system, also said that coverage for all Americans was still one of the administration’s goals, regardless of whether or not that comes by way of a public health option.
“The president believes this option of a government plan is the best way to provide choice and competition,” Gibbs told CBS.
He added: “I think most of what you are seeing on TV, no offense, is good TV, and that’s about it.”
This video is from CBS News’ Face the Nation, broadcast Sunday, August 16, 2009.