WASHINGTON (CNN) - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi signed off Thursday on a key component of a health care deal reached with conservative Democrats earlier in the week, potentially paving the way for a new consensus among the fractured House majority.
The deal between four fiscally conservative congressmen - part of the so-called "Blue Dog" coalition - and the chamber's Democratic leadership allowed debate to resume Wednesday in the critical House Energy and Commerce Committee.
A full House vote on the health care plan has been delayed until after the August congressional recess in part because the committee's fiscal conservatives had threatened to defeat the bill if several of their concerns were not addressed.
The Energy and Commerce Committee is the last of three committees required to clear the bill before it can be considered by the full House.
Pelosi told Capitol Hill reporters that she is "okay" with language instructing the Health and Human Services secretary to negotiate reimbursement rates for doctors and hospitals under a government-run health care option.
The idea is a key concession to conservatives worried that a public plan would have an unfair advantage over private insurers if it is allowed to tie its hospital and doctor payments to lower Medicare rates.
Conservative opponents of the public option have maintained that a not-for-profit plan would have a competitive advantage over private insurers and eventually would wipe them out.
The provision is "not my preference" but "it meets the test of having an effective public option," Pelosi said.
"I am for the strongest possible public option" to keep private sector "honest" and reach the goal of universal coverage, she added.
Pelosi noted that the provision had also been adopted by the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee chaired by Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy - a longtime liberal advocate for health care reform.
"I have a comfort level with (Kennedy's) language," Pelosi said. It proves there is "common ground" between the Democrats' conservative and liberal wings.
The agreement with the Blue Dogs, which is projected to lower the cost of the House plan by $100 billion over a decade, would also exempt businesses with payrolls below $500,000 from having to provide health coverage to their workers.
In addition, the agreement calls for the creation of state-run health insurance cooperatives to compete with a public health insurance option and private insurers.
It is not clear if any 52 House Blue Dogs beyond the four who made the agreement will sign on. It also remains unclear if House liberals will agree to the changes.
In a statement issued by the White House on Wednesday, Obama thanked members of the House and Senate, including "some Blue Dogs on the Energy and Commerce Committee," for "working so hard" to reach an agreement.
The Blue Dogs had initially threatened to derail the House bill because of concerns that it cost too much and fails to address systemic problems in the nation's ailing health care industry.
While momentum for reform may have accelerated in the House, prospects have grown more cloudy in the Senate. On Wednesday, two key Senate Republicans negotiating a bipartisan agreement said they now consider a deal out of reach before the Senate goes on its August recess.
The so-called "Gang of Six" negotiators - three Democrats and three Republicans - have been working to reach a compromise in the Senate Finance Committee.
Give us universal coverage Nancy. Its what we need. But you know that.
The best thing for America is voting this self-serving, crook of a House Speaker out. And that day cannot come soon enough. She is one of the crowning examples of why liberal Dems should NEVER be allowed in positions of leadership. Under her 'command' since 2006, the economy has tanked, Congressional approval ratings have dipped to all time lows, she's ruined relations with the intelligence community, and spent valuable time chasing lies to try to get after President Bush. She is a disgrace to the House, and to America.
I want to see these politicians sign up for this health care plan they're trying to force upon us and and if they refuse to do so than this health care bill is not good for the rest of us Americans.
They vote for or against us and our best interests this year.
We vote next year. I imagine more than a few won't be coming back to DC.
Please Dear Lord make her go away, please Dear Lord for the sake of our Nation.
Good news. I also agree with the small business exemption and inclusion of the majority-supported public option. Keep up the great work!
Similarly, the Senate needs to agree on this reasonable compromise, and let's get real healthcare reform passed for the American people!
Oh, I thought she was going to be happy with the idea that All Representatives should have time to digest this before a vote.
And who is going to pay for this? The working poor that's who, every new tax, every new hidden fee falls upon those who have the least ability to afford it. Because after all to these elitist pubic servants who feel they are royalty and above the working class. We are nothing more than indentured servants to support the Government.
If it's agreeable to Pelosi, it can't be good for the nation. By the way, has any representative or senator elected by taxpaying citizens taken the lead to close the loophole which would allow ILLEGAL aliens to have access to the same benefits as citizens?......all at taxpayer expense, of course. I know Pelosi and Senator Harry Reid of Nevada won't. Is there anyone at all in Congress who will stand up for the citizens they were elected to represent on this issue? Also, none of the news media, to date, has picked up on this issue. Again, why not?
Alice in the Looking-Glass. But still on the wrong side. When, and if you can: everything with do a %90 turn...
This is not reform , it's costly distruction and control
ie.., an appointed Health and Human Services Secretary will be between you and your doctor if your on the government option.
Nancy will be happy when all her cosmetic surgery is covered by her govt health plan.
The Government has tried to run a postal service for how many years and from that history we're to expect them to get health insurance right?
Well that didn't take nearly as long as watching the news recently has led me to believe it would.
I wonder how much of Obama's dip in approval has come about as a result of the media's irrational "doom and gloom" with regards to health care progress.
Americans have spoken...they do not want this.....I guess this is one reason Pelosi's approval rating is at 24%.....
Let's see now.....
There are problems with Medicare,
problems with Medicaid,
problems with the VA medical plans.
Maybe the government should start another medical insurance plan then we could really mess things up for everyone.