WASHINGTON, March 7 (UPI) -- U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius predicted Sunday congressional Democrats would round up enough votes to pass healthcare reform.
"I think we'll have the votes to pass comprehensive health reform," Sebelius said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
She played down the importance of when a vote would come, however. "The urgency of the timetable is not about some congressional time clock," she said. "It's about what's happening across this country to Americans."
Sebelius repeatedly sidestepped a question on whether she expected a vote before Obama leaves for Australia March 18, as the White House had said it hoped.
"I have not set a deadline; that is up to the leadership of Congress," Sebelius said. "I think we will have the votes when the leadership decides it's time to call for the vote."
Asked if the administration had made "missteps" in its push for healthcare reform, Sebelius said, "We spent way too much time and energy talking about what's not in the bill, trying to tamp down some of the wild rumors, wild accusations."
She noted 15,000 Americans a day lose their insurance, some of them because they're priced out of the marketplace.
The secretary cited a new Goldman Sachs report showing private insurance companies' profits are rising while competition declines. That demonstrates the need for reform to contain costs, she said.
"We know what doing nothing looks like, and it looks pretty scary," Sebelius said.