POLITICS: PennAve

Kathleen Sebelius: Obama isn't pursuing single-payer health care

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Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Thursday shot down the idea that President Obama should pursue the type of single-payer health care championed by many of his liberal allies.

During a brief interview with HuffPost Live, Sebelius was asked whether Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats should be voted out of office so the administration could implement a single-payer system.

“What the president really focused on was filling the gap and made a decision that’s uniquely American, which is to stick with the private insurance market and make sure the kinds of plans that existed in workplaces also were available to people regardless of what kind of job they had,” Sebelius responded.

“The president felt it was better not to disrupt the entire marketplace, but really to focus on where we had a real gap in the system,” she added.

Under single payer, the government — and by extension, taxpayers — pay all health care costs.

The Obama administration insists that it has dramatically improved the problem-plagued healthcare.gov website, but insurers say much work remains to ensure coverage for those seeking new health plans for next year.

And some senior administration officials have floated the idea of a single-payer system used by many European nations, for example.

“Just applied online for Medicare,” incoming White House counselor John Podesta tweeted on Nov. 14. "Took 5 minutes. Single payer anyone?"

Podesta had yet to accept the job offer from Obama at the time of his tweet.

Conservatives have long expressed concerns that a single-payer system is the logical next step for a government taking an increasingly active role in health care.

For her part, Sebelius said Thursday that the president is sticking with his original blueprint for Obamacare.

“About 185 million Americans have workplace coverage that they like,” Sebelius said, explaining that Obama didn’t want to start over from “square one."

“It works for them and their families,” Sebelius added.

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