1. Health care reform lives, but two deaths were semi-officially announced by the administration: Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius (on CNN's State of the Union with John King) and Press Secretary Robert Gibbs acknowledged that a "public option" in the health insurance exchange is not essential -- competition is.
2. And Sebelius, while bemoaning the tenor of public debate, said that end-of-life counseling is proving too much of a distraction and won't be part of health care reform. She said on TW/WGSWOVSOJTIS (George Stephanopoulos who is on vacation so Jake Tapper is substituting) that she hopes some of the funding will be restored in the conference process.
3. Sen. Kent Conrad called the months-long argument over a public plan a "wasted effort." The North Dakota Democrat, on Fox News Sunday, said that there are enough votes in the Senate for adding a "co-op" option to the exchange. He was cagey about whether he thought the Senate would be ready with a bill by September 15. Sen. Richard Shelby reacted
favorably to the notion that the administration is moving towards a public plan.
4. On CNN's State of the Union with John King, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson did not quite rule out voting in favor of a bill without a public option, but she came pretty close. "We'll have the same number of uninsured," she said. James Carville's advice to Democrats: "Let them kill it. Let them kill it with the interest group money, then run against them. That's what we ought to do."
5. On This Week, Sen. Orrin Hatch refused to say which Alaskan, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, or ex-Gov. Sarah Palin, had it right about the "death panels." He cited a statistic from the Lewin Group -- that the Democratic plan would move 119 million people into government run programs -- that applied to an entirely different bill than the one which the House will ultimately vote on. Hatch later said that the White House's IMAC Medicare price commission would lead to rationing seniors health care.
6. Here, on Face The Nation, is Robert Gibbs, on whether the President is hedging on his support for a public plan:
"What I am saying is the bottom line for this for the president is, what we have to have is choice and competition in the insurance market. Again, if you are in a place in this country where you only get one choice, how in the world are you going to be able to convince anybody that you are driving down costs when you don't have to compete against anything."
8. Rachel Maddow, debuting on Meet the Press, argued with ex-Majority Leader/ex-health care lobbyist/current FreedomWorks chairman Dick Armey and seems to have gotten the better of him. Watch it here. This quote from Maddow is not going to win her lots of allies at the White House:
But ultimately, if the president decides that he's going to go with a reform effort that doesn't include a public option, what he will have done is spent a ton of political capital, riled up an incredibly angry right wing base who's been told that this is a plot to kill grandma, grandma, and he will have achieved something that doesn't change health care very much and that doesn't save us very much money and won't do very much for the American people. It's not a very good thing to spend a lot of political capital on.
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is a senior fellow at the USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership and Policy.