President Defends Public Plan as Part of Health Care Reform
At a news conference on Tuesday, President Obama said it is "not logical" to believe that a public health plan option would undermine the private insurance market, the New York Times reports (Zeleny/Pear, New York Times, 6/24).
He said, "If private insurers say that the marketplace provides the best-quality health care -- if they tell us that they're offering a good deal -- then why is it that the government, which they say can't run anything, suddenly is going to drive them out of business?" (Levey/Nicholas, Los Angeles Times, 6/24).
Obama said, "There can be some legitimate concerns on the part of private insurers that if any public plan is simply being subsidized by taxpayers endlessly, that over time, they can't compete with the government just printing money" (Wolf/Jackson, USA Today, 6/23). He said, "I think there is going to be some healthy debate about the shape that this takes" (Alexander/Smith, Reuters, 6/23).
According to Obama, a public option is an "important tool to discipline insurance companies."
Obama said that it is "too early to say" whether he would sign a health reform bill that does not include a public option, adding, "Right now, I will say that our position is that a public plan makes sense."
He said, "We have not drawn lines in the sand other than that reform has to control costs and that it has to provide relief to people who don't have health insurance or are underinsured," adding, "Those are the broad parameters that we've discussed" (New York Times, 6/24).
When questioned about the high cost estimates of Democrats' health care reform plans, Obama said, "If we're going to spend that much money, then it's going to be largely funded through reallocating dollars that are already in the health care system, but aren't being spent well" (Reuters, 6/23).
Obama said that controlling rising health care costs is his "top priority" (Koffler, Roll Call, 6/23).
Talking to Governors
On Wednesday, Obama is scheduled to meet with a bipartisan group of governors who co-hosted regional forums on health reform earlier this year to talk about overhaul efforts. Scheduled participants include Govs.:
- Jim Douglas (R-Vt.);
- Jim Doyle (D-Wis.);
- Jennifer Granholm (D-Mich.);
- Christine Gregoire (D-Wash.); and
- Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) (AP/USA Today, 6/24).
'Good Morning America'
During an appearance on ABC's "Good Morning America" on Wednesday, Obama said that "if any reform that we get is not driving down costs in a serious way. If people say, 'We're just going to add more people onto a hugely inefficient system,' then I will say no. Because ... we can't afford it."
Obama said that his position on elements of health reform has "evolved" over time and that he would support an individual coverage mandate with fines for people who remain uninsured, as long as there is an exemption for lower-income U.S. residents (Alonso-Zaldivar/Espo, AP/Dayton Daily News, 6/24).
He added that health care reform "absolutely" will get completed this year (Reuters/Boston Globe, 6/24).
Also on Wednesday, Obama will participate in a town hall meeting on health care that will air on ABC at 10 p.m. ET (AP/USA Today, 6/24).
Other Broadcast Coverage
American Public Media's "Marketplace" on Tuesday reported on Obama's press conference and examined how much health care reform might cost and the effect of a public option on insurers (Ryssdal, "Marketplace," American Public Media, 6/23).
In addition, PBS' "NewsHour With Jim Lehrer" featured a discussion of Obama's remarks on health care with NPR health care reporter Julie Rovner and Hotline editor-in-chief Amy Walter (Ifill, "NewsHour With Jim Lehrer," 6/23).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.