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

Pelosi: Health bill must have public option to pass House

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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

"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. Dace

    This is the most blatant disregard for public opinion. If approving this health care reform is only achievable by using a short-cut like reconciliation, bypassing a the "normal" voting standards and lower the necessary votes to pass, something is very wrong! How is this Government working for the people?

    August 20, 2009 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  2. Jay T.

    Democrats need to ignore the Republicans on this. Everyone knows you tried and everyone knows they are only there to keep things from happening. Now, make things happen and ignore them...completely and irrevocably. It will work. You are being bled to death by thinking this is going to be bi-partisan.

    August 20, 2009 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  3. Kevin B

    You are right on point Mrs Pelosi !

    Blow through the facade of lies and fear the GOP and the insurance lobby has been selling and just get her done....

    August 20, 2009 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  4. Debra R

    1. I want whatever the senators and congressmen are having
    2. If they want this so bad, they should not have expemted themselves
    3. Medicare and Medicaid? Need i say more or the governments efficientcy on these programs?

    August 20, 2009 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  5. Lynne

    Why isn't CNN reporting the USA poll which found that 77% of those polled SUPPORTED the public option? Doesn't iy "fit" with your narrative??

    Who besides CNN is touting "RomneyCare" as an alternative?? The Rep and their allies have been toting MAS as the reason why universal health care is a failure. Of course CNN conveniently ignores that as well as Romney was working with Democrats.

    August 20, 2009 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  6. andrea

    The Republicans are trying to cause a Train Wreck. NO and FEAR is the only idea those Right Wing Nuts have. So lets just DO IT.

    August 20, 2009 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
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