If Barack Obama hoped to rescue his vision of a health-care system overhaul with his wan effort in the New York Times, a key member of the Senate Democratic Caucus threw a bucket of cold water on those hopes this morning. Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND) told a television audience that the pursuit of a public option for coverage was a “wasted effort” that would kill any hope of passage in the upper chamber. Obama, said Conrad, should exercise more humility in approaching a government role in American health care — and even Obama’s key Cabinet member agrees:
“Look, the fact of the matter is there are not the votes in the U.S. Senate for the public option, there never have been,” Conrad said in an interview on “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace.”
“So to continue to chase that rabbit is, I think, a wasted effort,” Conrad said.
His comments followed Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’s remark that a public option is “not the essential element” to ensure competition in the health insurance market. Sebelius made the remark on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
A public option is included in legislation moving through the House, and is backed by liberals, who would feel betrayed if it is not a part of a final bill. They see a public insurance plan as critical to ensure that private insurance companies offer coverage and lower costs.
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