The White House has strengthened its denial that the administration’s non-committal position on the public option has changed one way or another.
“Here’s the bottom line: Absolutely nothing has changed,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
“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.”
Over the weekend, President Obama referred to the public option as a “sliver” of health care reform, and Sebelius said the public option wasn’t essential reform’s success. Though the White House’s core position hasn’t changed, the intensity with which it supports the public option has varied over the last several weeks, and this weekend’s remarks were the first indication that the administration doesn’t even regard the public option as particularly crucial.
But White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs insists that Sebelius’ statements were not a trial balloon. “If it was a signal, it was a dog whistle we started blowing three months ago, and it just got picked up,” Gibbs said. “It’s crazy. It’s not a signal.”