Transcript: HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Mitt Romney

GEORGE WILL, ABC NEWS ANALYST: No, because this is now a single issue argument about whether or not we're on a slippery slope to a single-payer system. That is, it's about the so-called public option. And the president has said, "If you are starting from scratch" -- he said this very recently -- he would go to a single payer. That is, government as the single provider of health care.

Now, there are four arguments for the public option. One is, in the president's words, it will keep them honest, to try to preserve the government as a lagoon of honesty, you can argue, refuted by anybody who reads any budget of any administration.

Second, he says, it will play by the same rules as the private insurers, and therefore, won't drive them out of business. If you play by the same rules, as you said to the secretary, what's the point?

Third, it's necessary to give what Secretary Sebelius said a choice to the consumers. There are 1,300 entities offering health-care plans in this country. Another one isn't going to change that.

Finally, there's the argument that the American people are not smart enough to handle something as complicated as health care and have a competitive market. They've done rather well in computers.

DONNA BRAZILE, ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I believe the president has laid out a set of principles that will clearly help Congress through this very contentious debate this summer.

Of course, the president has said the current system is broken, and he intends to fix it. But if you like your current insurance, keep it. But he's also adamant that we reduce costs, and we provide some option for those Americans without health insurance. Now 46 million Americans, 20 million Americans are under insured. There should be some option that competes with private insurers to reduce costs and provide the quality.

RON BROWNSTEIN, "NATIONAL JOURNAL": George, if the Democrats in the White House allow the public option to become the single or even the defining issue in this, it would be a case of political malfeasance, for two reasons. First, it is not essential to making this plan work. And second, to the extent we are focusing on this, as understandably we are, you can miss the larger picture of the extent to which consensus has been achieved on broad -- on the fundamental issue of how you expand coverage and how you cover those under insured.

There's actually outstandingly broad agreement. The idea of trading a mandate on all individuals to purchase insurance, an individual mandate, in turn for sweeping reform of the insurance industry that would eliminate their ability to deny coverage based on preexisting condition and have community ratings, comparable prices, regardless of your health condition or age. The insurance industry has now accepted that trade.

And Barack Obama, after opposing it as a candidate has accepted that. Two years ago, when Arnold Schwarzenegger tried to do something almost exactly like that, the left in California killed the universal coverage plan. Ted Kennedy is now endorsing that trade. And so is Chuck Grassley.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And Ted Kennedy is not giving up on the Republicans (ph). I want to get to that in a second, but let me bring Kim in here on what you were saying, Ron, is the consensus, because I think you are right about the consensus.

Page
Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...