WH messaging on public option confusing Grassley

The Obama administration's messages to lawmakers about whether or not it supports a public option have only resulted in confusion for one key healthcare negotiator, Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyThe Trail 2016: Fight night Clinton, Trump tied in Iowa, Grassley leads in Senate race Senate rivals gear up for debates MORE (R-Iowa).

Grassley told Iowa reporters Wednedsay that he'd suggested to President Obama in a meeting in early August that he needed to make clear whether or not he could support a bill without a public (or "government-run") option.

"I thought a statement from him would be very helpful," explained Grassley, the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, the lead group negotiating a bipartisan health bill in the Senate.

But while Grassley said that statements this past weekend about Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen SebeliusKathleen SebeliusRomney: Trump victory 'very possible' Fighting for assisted living facilities The chaotic fight for ObamaCare MORE about the necessity of the public option seemed like a trial balloon, White House backtracking has only resulted in confusion about the president's stance.

"When Sebelius said what she did -- I thought maybe it was a trial balloon," Grassley said. "But then I saw so much backtracking by White House personnel."

"I don't know, but I can tell you that we've had these trial balloons before," the Iowa Republican added. "So you just don't know is the best answer to your question."