NPR logo HHS Secretary Suggests Obama Could Back Single-Payer Ban

HHS Secretary Suggests Obama Could Back Single-Payer Ban

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius AP Photo/Susan Walsh hide caption

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AP Photo/Susan Walsh

The Obama Administration isn't using its push for a public health insurance option as a stalking horse for a single-payer plan Health and Human Service Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told NPR's Steve Inskeep, host of Morning Edition in an interview this afternoon.

Indeed, in response to Steve's question as to why the administration just didn't say categorically that there would be no attempt at a single-payer system on its watch and that it would even support legislation to enshrine that position into law, the secretary said:

Oh, I think that's very much the case.

Sebelius told Inskeep that the disappointed reaction of supporters of a single-payer system is proof that the administration doesn't back the single-payer approach.

Here's her exchange with Steve:

STEVE: What's been the hardest thing for you to explain, and why?

SEBELIUS: I think that the whole idea of the public option has been difficult in part because I think some of the opposition has described it as a potential for a draconian scenario that was never part of the discussion in the first place. So disabusing people about what is not going to happen is often difficult because there is no tangible way to do that.

INSKEEP: Can you say flat out that it's just never going to be single-payer health insurance and we're going to try to write it if we can so it won't ever be?

SEBELIUS: Oh, I think that's very much the case. And again, if you want anybody to convince people of that, talk to the single-payer proponents who are furious that the single-payer idea is not part of the discussion. And the president has said over and over again that what we need is an American solution to an American problem. What we have is a situation where most private insurance is provided through a workplace, through a connection with somebody's employer. And what we don't want to do as we're trying to solve the problem of insuring all Americans is dismantle a system that works well for a lot of people.

You can hear the rest of the interview on Morning Edition on Tuesday.