White House Insists “Nothing Has Changed” on Public Health Insurance Option

Aug 17, 2009 7:02pm

ABC News’ Karen Travers reports:

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs took issue with reporters’ questions tonight about whether the president has signaled a shift in his support for a public insurance option.

Gibbs insisted “nothing has changed” in the president’s position, despite Obama’s remark on Saturday that the public option “is not the entirety of health care reform. This is just one sliver of it.”

“The goals are choice and competition.  His preference is a public option.  If there are other ideas, he's happy to look at them,” Gibbs said in a briefing on Air Force One en route back to Washington.

Gibbs said there has been a “boring consistency” to the White House’s rhetoric on health care and challenged reporters to go back and look at the record. He turned the reporters’ questions into an opportunity to question the media coverage, saying it is “one of the more curious things” he’s seen.

“I was on a Sunday show, I said the same thing about a public option that I've said for I don't know how many weeks.  [Secretary Sebelius] reiterated what the President said the day before, and you'd think there was some new policy,” he said.

Mubarak meeting
Tomorrow President Obama meets at the White House with Egyptian President Mubarak, part of the administration’s continuing outreach in the Middle East, Gibbs said.

“I think obviously each country in the region on either side of this issue has certain responsibilities to uphold as we make progress toward a lasting peace in the Middle East.  And without a recognition of those responsibilities it's going to be hard to move forward.  So I think the President will take some time to talk through that,” Gibbs said.

-Karen Travers

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