Moderates from both parties backed away from a
government-run public health insurance option Sunday, as they appeared on
various Sunday talk shows.
The Boston Globe: "Sen. Claire McCaskill, Democrat of
Missouri, said the issue of a government-backed health insurance option had
become a 'distraction' and Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Democrat of New Hampshire,
voiced support for a public option but said Democrats should keep the big
picture in mind. - Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, which is
experiencing grievous budget problems, said the bill must not foist new costs
on states, and Senator Susan M. Collins, a Republican from Maine, said cost was
'the number one concern, as I talk to my constituents'" (Wangsness, 9/14).
CQ Politics: Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad on Sunday
"pointed out that the president 'said he's prepared to hear a better idea,
so if somebody's got a better idea, bring it to him.'" He also noted that
Obama said during his speech, "Look, I am ready to move toward the
middle" and "talked about a plan that's very close to the bipartisan
plan that's being developed in the Finance Committee."
But Conrad said "he didn't believe Obama is scuttling a
public option. 'I don't think he's giving up. I think he made a very strong
case for his support for a public option as an option,' he said." But
Conrad also noted the President's message of being open to other ideas, such as
the cooperative approach, "which would provide a nonprofit competitor but
would not be government-run, would be run by its membership, as all co-ops
In the meantime, Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe said the
public option is "'universally opposed by all Republicans in the Senate'
and 'therefore, there's no way to pass a plan that includes the public
option,'" The New York Times reports (Berger, 9/13).
CBS News, however, reports senior White House adviser David
Axelrod said President Obama "continues to believe it's a good idea ... He continues to advocate it, and I'm not
willing to accept that it's not going to be in the final package." Axelrod
also said on 'Face the Nation' that the president "believes that it will
add an element of competition where there is none in some places in this
country where there's a monopolistic situation with insurance companies"
The New York Times also has an analysis piece on the public
option: "That proposal took on a life of its own, but it now appears to be
dying, a victim of an ineffectual White House strategy, the president's failure
to argue passionately for the 'public option' and all-out opposition by the
insurance industry and much of the health care industry. In the campaign, Mr.
Obama said the public plan would compete with private insurers on the price and
quality of care, thus benefiting consumers.
What Mr. Obama did not foresee is that, to some people
on the right and the left, it would become the most important issue in the
debate over health care, touching off a battle over the role of government in
one of the nation's biggest, fastest-growing industries" (Pear, 9/12).
Source: Kaiser Health News