Sebelius: "We continue to support the public option"

The Health and Human Services secretary says "nothing has changed" in the administration's position

Published August 18, 2009 5:50PM (EDT)

It was Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius who started the frenzy that's occurred the past couple days over the question of whether the Obama administration is ready to give up on the public option. And now it's Sebelius who's trying to put a stop to it.

On Sunday, Sebelius told CNN's John King that a public option "is not the essential element" in healthcare reform. During a speech she gave on Tuesday, though, she went after the media for focusing on her remarks.

"If you were watching the news over the weekend, you probably have seen reports about the Obama administration and the public option portion of the health reform plan," Sebelius said.

"All I can tell you is that Sunday must have been a very slow news day because here's the bottom line: Absolutely nothing has changed. We continue to support the public option. That will help lower costs, give American consumers more choice and keep private insurers honest. If people have other ideas about how to accomplish these goals, we'll look at those, too. But the public option is a very good way to do this."

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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