There’s been a lot of speculation and chatter, but can Democrats really take a ‘public option’ off the table as they press ahead with health care reform?
Right now it seems traders are betting they can. In fact HMO stocks such as Aetna and UnitedHealth have traded higher in recent days on the belief that the White House was backing down from the public option.
No Public Option?
But that belief largely stems from a couple of statements made around the middle of the month that received a great deal of media attention – one of which came from the president.
“The public option, whether we have it or we don't have it, is not the entirety of healthcare reform. This is just one sliver of it. One aspect of it," he said.
The other comment came from Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius who said a government alternative to private health insurance is "not the essential element" of healthcare reform.
However, many prominent figures are saying quite the opposite.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declared around August 20th that a government-run insurance option was essential, and she knocked down speculation that the House health-care bill might be watered down before it is brought to a vote.
"I don't know how you would scale it down," Pelosi (D., Calif.) said at a news conference in San Francisco. "There's no way I can pass a bill in the House of Representatives without a public option." The bill has passed out of three House committees, in each case including a public option.