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WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama's health secretary is suggesting the White House is ready to accept nonprofit insurance cooperatives instead of a government-run public option in a health overhaul plan. A Republican senator says that is worth looking at.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says Obama still believes there should be choice and competition" in the health insurance market - but that a public option is "not the essential element."
Shelby is a vocal opponent of the health care overhaul proposed by President Barack Obama. Shelby says he sees insurance co-ops as "a step away from the government take over of the health care system."
Gibbs: White House still supports public option
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.