August 20th, 2009
05:28 PM ET
5 years ago

Pelosi: Health bill must have public option to pass House

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent a clear message Thursday to congressional negotiators on the health-care bill.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent a clear message Thursday to congressional negotiators on the health-care bill.

(CNN) - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent a clear message Thursday to congressional negotiators on the health-care bill - dropping the public option would destroy any chance for comprehensive reform.

"There is no way I can pass a bill in the House of Representatives without a public option," she told an audience at her home district in San
Francisco, California.

The speaker said she agreed with President Barack Obama that a public option is "the best way to keep the insurance companies honest (and) that it would be the best way to increase competition so that we can lower cost, improve quality of care, retain choice, and expand coverage."

"If somebody can come up with a better idea, let them put it on the table," she said. "We haven't heard that yet. So we're fighting very hard for
the public option."


A government-sponsored health insurance option has been cleared by three committees in the House as well as by the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.

But a bipartisan group of six negotiators on the Senate Finance Committee - the last committee that needs to clear health care legislation before it can be taken up on the Senate floor - is currently considering dropping a government-funded public health insurance option in favor of non-profit cooperatives that would negotiate collective polices for members.

One of the key Democratic negotiators, North Dakota Sen. Kent Conrad, has insisted that a public health option cannot get the 60 votes required to overcome a Senate filibuster.

Some top Democrats have responded in recent days by hinting that they may instead try to short-circuit the traditional Senate legislative process by passing a health-care bill through an obscure tactic known as reconciliation, a type of budget maneuver that requires only a simple majority - 51 votes - to pass.

Such a maneuver would boost the prospects for Senate passage of a public health option.

Pelosi said Thursday that while she supports good-faith efforts at bipartisan compromise, co-ops are not an acceptable substitute for a public
option.

"If someone thinks that a co-op can work for their state, that's fine," she said. "If they want to have one for their state, perhaps that could be
included in the legislation. But it is not a substitute for a public option."

Pelosi was adamant that Democrats need to take full advantage of the fact that they now control the White House and have unusually large House and Senate majorities.

"Let me just be very clear," she said. "If we don't pass this bill with all the comprehensive aspects of it now, I don't know when we'll have a chance to do it."


Filed under: Health care • Nancy Pelosi
soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. Janet

    Did Nancy say this to an audience at her $25 million dollar winery?

    August 20, 2009 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  2. Uncle Ellsworthy

    Actually better proposals have been made Nancy and others aren' t listening. It's extremely doubtfull it would pass the House anyway. Kind of a moot point in any event since it will never pass the Senate.

    August 20, 2009 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  3. bob in LA

    What the bill MUST have is the right ingredience to make all sides happy enough to feel what they gain will offset what they give up.
    Seniors want to take without thinking about the future and its generations. The young who have no understanding of iage related illnesses don;t want to spend money on the necessitites of getting older and those in between are just tired of being pulled in all directions.
    A public option? Give us the same options the federal employees get- how's that for an option? ( I know many have said the same thing)

    August 20, 2009 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  4. Tina, Georgia

    What happened to all the Republicans Obama was going to bring on board his train wreck?

    August 20, 2009 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  5. jj12345

    Pelosi: "If somebody can come up with a better idea, let them put it on the table," she said. "We haven't heard that yet. So we're fighting very hard for the public option."

    She should update that quote and substitute democrat with somebody. The left is crying that the republicians are obstructing (which they cant do with the dem majorities) or they have nothing to offer. Problem is the dems are not allowing the republicians to offer anything.

    August 20, 2009 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  6. BLM

    Ms. Pelosi is a reflection of the morons in her district that keep voting for a vacuous, ego-centered person. The seniors who will suffer will be on her conscience.

    August 20, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  7. Steph

    The Republicans are their own people. Obama can invite them into the discussion, but can't make them engage in an honest dialogue. You know the saying. You can bring a horse to water but...

    August 20, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  8. jt

    look, the "public option" is the lynch pin that will get reform passed. the opponents are now saying that they would vote for reform en masse if there is no public option. the proponents will drop the public option at the last minute, and the opponents will have their hand forced.

    that's politics in a nutshell..

    August 20, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  9. vette gal

    Because I can't normally stand Pelosi, I hate to say this but I thinks she's correct for once in her life. There must be a public option in the health care bill in order for it to be effective. Let them filibuster! Then our country can see that the republicans are basically the only ones that don't was national healh care even though we're the only developed country in the world that doesn't have it.

    August 20, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  10. Cindy

    Bravo, Speaker Pelosi! Thank you for staying strong!

    August 20, 2009 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  11. Aaron B.

    I NEVER thought I would say this. . . . I am behind Nancy Pelosi. and Obama wonders why his polls are souring.

    August 20, 2009 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  12. katiec

    If Health Care Reform does not carry Public Option than it will be a farce, once again the raping of the American peopel.
    It is the only plan that will make the insurance companies competitve, perhaps bring back a little integrity and reduce costs overall.
    Health care reform is crucial for us and our country, we cannot
    let the republicans and big business win.

    August 20, 2009 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  13. Predicta

    Give it up Nancy...Your socialist agenda is now exposed and health care with a public option is now dead. Forcing it through without the support of the American people (51 percent now oppose the bill in it's current form), will have political consequences which will bring the republicans back to majority in 2010. That will effectively put an end to Change we can believe in.

    August 20, 2009 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  14. John

    Go Pelosi Go. We want Health Bill Passed. We support you.

    Nuisance in Town Hall Meetings is caused by Hooligans paid $8 an hour by the GOP.

    GOP intentionally is interfering and causing disruption in Town Hall Meetings.

    GOP is part of the HEALTH INSURANCE MAFIA.

    GOP did nothing for America in the Last 8 years.

    GOP is a Defunct and a Dud Party.

    GOP supports the Rich who amass Wealth by Plunder, Embezzlement and Defrauding the Poor and the Middle Class.

    GOP supported Madoff.

    GOP is paid BRIBES by the HEALTH INSURANCE MAFIA.

    Pelosi help us get rid of Health Insurance Mafia and GOP in America.

    August 20, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  15. Steve

    There are about 300 million of us. They say 47 million do no have insurance out of the 47 million about 10 million could be on goverment plan but have not enrolled . 11 million are illegal about 7 million make over $60,000 but elect not to have insurance. So at most we are looking to over haul the insurance for all americans for less then 20 million folks out of 300 million. 290 million people have to give up what they have so 20 million can get free health care does not make sence. Is the liberal news people going to go to goverment run health or do they just want the rest of us to go there. I want the newscasters to come out and say they want all of there kids and family on the govement plan

    August 20, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  16. Thomas

    Thank god someone has some sense. The public option is one of the few good things in this health care 'reform' if we dont get it through we might as well not pass anything at all.

    August 20, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  17. Lee

    I think she is right, the insurance industry had how many years to make thing right and keep cost down on their own, not once did they try. Now we are supposed to believe they will do it now, NOT! PUBLIC OPTION is the only way, if you are currently unemployed because your job went overseas, who pays for your families healthcare? If you have a pre-existing condition, will the insurance industry cover you, maybe if you pay them enough. IF you currently have NO insurance and go to the emergency room, who pays for the visit; TAXPAYERS; what's the difference? THINK AMERICA.

    August 20, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  18. bozo the obama

    Nancy PeLIEsi...you LOSE.

    August 20, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  19. Obama Victim

    and there is no way this will pass with the public options....pandering to the far left again......................hey, wait.......did her face move??

    August 20, 2009 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  20. MJ

    Nancy needs to stay far away from a microphone. Every time she opens her mouth and blinks her eyes it just gets worse. Maybe a hearing aid would help.

    August 20, 2009 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  21. Steve, Columbia SC

    I will say again Mrs. Pelosi, the opinion in MY "house" is that with a public option and all the other government trough provisions, it should be destroyed.

    Your threats won't work, and the current legislation is not acceptable to a majority of Americans.

    August 20, 2009 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  22. Nuts

    Vote this crazy women out of office in 2010.

    August 20, 2009 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  23. Proud Member..Party of No

    Typical Pelosi bi-partisanship. C'mon California, vote this lunatic out.

    August 20, 2009 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  24. Flagship, NC

    It is true, "the best way to keep the insurance companies honest (and) that it would be the best way to increase competition so that we can lower cost, improve quality of care, retain choice, and expand coverage."

    I DON'T UNDER STAND WHY PEOPLE DON'T GET THIS BASIC CONCEPT.

    August 20, 2009 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  25. Voted4HealthCare

    I may not always agree with Speaker Pelosi, but she is absolutely right on this issue. Americans voted for a representative majority this past election. All House committees and President Obama are upholding their elected responsibilities to pass health care with a public option.

    The Senate Finance Committee needs to do the same and stop this obstructive nonsense for their corporate interest$$. Baucus' 6 ridiculous members (3 corporate GOP and 3 "conservative" Dems = 6 corporate GOP), that is NOT what we voted for.

    Senate Finance needs to allow FULL committee, as we elected them to do and pass reform with a public option supported by the majority of Americans.

    August 20, 2009 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
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