From NBC's Betsy Cline
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius took the opportunity to clarify her comments from CNN's State of the Union " in a speech to Medicare fraud prevention advocates this morning. Sebelius' comments Sunday that a public option of the health-care reform proposal was "not essential" was interpreted by some as a shift by the White House.
"All I can tell you is that Sunday must have been a very slow news day, because here's the bottom line: absolutely nothing has changed," she said. "We continue to support the public option that will help lower costs, give American consumers more choice and keep private insurers honest."
Sebelius said a public option would work "side-by-side" with private insurers, to "[provide] choice in markets that are often dominated by one insurance company."
The administration's bottom line goal, she told the audience, is "more choices."
She also responded to critics who have been "causing fear" by telling Americans the administration's proposal will lead to a rationing of care: "Nothing could be farther from the truth."
*** CORRECTION *** An earlier version of this post incorrectly identified Sebelius' comments with ABC's This Week. She made the comments on CNN's State of the Union.