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Monday, August 17, 2009

Nobody seems to know what's going on with the potential public-option-drop I blogged last night. Ambinder and the Huffington Post indicate that Sebelius's comments are being walked back:

An administration official said tonight that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius "misspoke" when she told CNN this morning that a government run health insurance option "is not an essential part" of reform. This official asked not to be identified in exchange for providing clarity about the intentions of the President. The official said that the White House did not intend to change its messaging and that Sebelius simply meant to echo the president, who has acknowledged that the public option is a tough sell in the Senate and is, at the same time, a must-pass for House Democrats, and is not, in the president's view, the most important element of the reform package.

A second official, Linda Douglass, director of health reform communications for the administration, said that President Obama believed that a public option was the best way to reduce costs and promote competition among insurance companies, that he had not backed away from that belief, and that he still wanted to see a public option in the final bill.
Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (R-TX) also indicated that the public option may be a deal-breaker for the progressive caucus.

For his part, Krugman wrote on Saturday that there are viable alternatives to the public option, and SEK now thinks that public option was never really on the table in the first place, but was rather a kind of negotiating tactic with the long-term side effect of shifting the Overton Window left on health care. Nate Silver is still counting votes, but doesn't seem optimistic.