NY Times Interview With Sebelius: “I’m Very Encouraged”
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, spoke to The New York Times about the state of health care reform on Capitol Hill during a 15-minute interview.
About President Obama, Sebelius said: "I've been very encouraged by his absolute focus on the fact that this is a moment - we're not going to lose this moment ... he wasn't dissuaded by lots of pundits and politicos who said, 'Oh it's too hard, it's too much, it's too heavy a lift, you know, we can't do it now, we should wait,' and really has pressed forward. Also, I'm encouraged by the House and Senate who really are, I think, actively engaged in drafting legislation. What the president wisely assessed, looking at what did not happen in the early '90s, was that unless there was some real ownership, unless members of Congress owned drafting and crafting and did some heavy lifting and then owned the final work product, it wasn't going to work."
She notes: "There's no question that the next several weeks in Congress are not only the sort of heavy lifting but that there will be a lot of times when it appears that everything is falling apart. Anytime specific legislative language is crafted, there's something to hate about it... I do think there's a sense of urgency and a commitment certainly among the House and Senate leadership to try and get a bill through those bodies by the time Congress recesses in August. That sets up a time clock that - even if it's hard - I think that a lot of people are focused on." Sebelius says that the public option and cost pose difficulties but notes: "I think people need to remember is when a price tag of approximately $1 trillion over a decade is talked about, at least if the Congress adopts much of the president's proposal, at least two-thirds of that is money that is currently in the health system ... we are talking about money that is currently being spent or misspent on health care that could be spent in a more effective strategy" (Sack, 6/18).