Health and Human Services Secretary Optimistic For Bipartisan Healthcare Reform Bill

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U.S. Congresswoman Mary Jo Kilroy and a member of President Obama’s cabinet visited Columbus today. The pair stopped by Ohio State’s medical center to view a state-of-the-art records-keeping program. But they also promoted the healthcare overhaul.

Since 2008, Ohio State University Medical Center has used an electronic system to keep up with patients’ health records. U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said this kind of program is a “building block” to a reformed healthcare system.

Republicans and Democrats in both chambers are at odds over a healthcare overhaul. Sebelius remains optimistic for a bipartisan bill, but she said party loyalty runs deep.

“I was, um, dismayed to hear a prominent senator involved in these discussions suggest that even if the bill had everything he liked he was unlikely to vote for it unless more members of his party were to vote for it. I hope we get beyond that,” Sebelius said.

One major point of contention in the healthcare overhaul is a public option or a government run insurance plan. Both Sebelius and Democratic Congresswoman Mary Jo Kilroy favor one. They say a public option would cuts costs and create competition in the private sector. But Critic says a public plan would be costly and put private insurers out of business.

Kilroy said even if a public option were taken out of the House legislation the bill still would have many good components. But she remains non-committal.

“So would I vote for a great bill if it didn’t have one piece of it? You know, I want to make sure that we don’t lose this momentum. I want to see if we can take advantage of this point in time to make it happen,” Kilroy said.

Sebelius said the country is closer to healthcare reform than it has been in 70 years.