Nancy Pelosi on Health-Care Reform
Earlier today, in an interview with three reporters, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said health-care reform would pass the House and that it would include a public plan. She also said the Blue Dogs were basically resigned to this prospect, and that the Republicans "will do everything they can to stop it, not only because they disagree philosophically, but because they know politically that this is so very powerful" politically. The discussion was a bit disjointed for a straight transcript, but selected excerpts follow.
On the need for a public plan.
We have been very clear about the fundamentals. We do not see real, systemic change in the health-care system if there is not a robust public option. We see that as the way to quality, affordability, accessibility, and universality in health care. If someone has another way, show us, but until that time comes, this is the way we see it.
On the co-op compromise.
I think it might be something additional. I don't see it as an alternative to the public option.
On the Blue Dogs.
Some of the concerns the Blues have raised are concerns others have raised as well. The public option is going to happen. They recognize that. They may want to put it on their list of concerns about how it will work. But part of what this is is removing misconceptions. One of the misconceptions was that the public option would be funded by the federal government, wouldn't have to pay back its start-up costs. And that has never been the case. To be a competitor, it will have to be able to compete, be fiscally sound, and be responsible for its administrative costs. It will have advantages, but it has to compete.
On the Congressional Budget Office.
We do have to be fiscally responsible. We will live by the rules of the CBO. But it's also true that the CBO doesn't count things that we know will save money, like prevention, wellness and end-of-life issues. You don't need to be a congressional accountant to know those will save money. We are very confident that this bill will have savings, and many of them will not be counted by the CBO. But they will save money. Outside groups can document them. We will live by the rules so we are fiscally sound and all the rest. But that doesn't mean we won't have other provisions that save money, but won't be scored.
On the Republicans.
We have to assume that the Republicans share our value that all Americans should have health-care coverage. But the Republicans know that passing real health-care reform that is meaningful to the American people is politically powerful. And they must stop it. It's the most noticeable initiative Congress can take to improve the lives of the American people, and they must stop it.
Can they stop it?
They can't stop it. It's going to pass. It's like, can you stop the night from coming after day? But they will do everything they can to stop it, not only because they disagree philosophically, but because they know politically that this is so very powerful. They know this is the most noticeable initiative Congress can take to improve the lives of the American people, and they must stop it. I would imagine there were some Republicans who felt some discomfort at [Jim DeMint's comments that this could defeating health-care reform could "break" Obama], because he blew their cover.
Do you need Republicans on the bill for Democrats to vote for this in significant numbers?
On legislative strategy.
I call Washington "the city of the perishable." You get the votes and you take the vote because you never know what can happen.
That was like a 100 years ago. Everyone here is focused on tomorrow. This is a funny place. You pass a bill and it's the biggest thing in the world and then it's like, "What's next?"
On deals with the industry.
We know we can squeeze more from the system. The minute the drug companies settled for $80 billion, we knew it was $160 billion. Right? If they're giving away 80? But in any event, they're supporting the bill and everybody likes that. But there could be more money. But when you want to squeeze more, you have to be careful about what you're squeezing. You have to make sure it's waste, fraud, and abuse. We don't have the capability of squeezing from the private sector. All we can squeeze is out of the public sector. And the president made the agreements he made. And maybe we'll be limited by that. But maybe not!
On the MedPAC/IMAC ideas.
MedPAC has been an idea out there for awhile. There have been some concerns about it among many of us because it's a big transfer of authority to the executive branch. I myself could have argued the issue both ways. Do I want my members figuring out how much oxygen people need or do we want to pass it on? But how we pass it on was important. Does Congress participate in appointing membership? Do we establish criteria to make sure we bend the curve in a way that protects people?
Steny [Hoyer] and Mr. Waxman and Mr. Dingell and, I think, Mr. Rangel were among those who did not fondly receive this proposal at first. It became more of an issue when we were seeing what CBO was going to score. When we found out they could score that, we thought okay, with the proper criteria, this is something we could probably live with.
They mention the Defense Base Closure and Reauthorization Commission. But leadership has appointments to BRAC. We want to see representation, not some ex officio group we have no say over.
On the Senate's timetable.
I'd be more concerned if this were next Wednesday and they didn't have anything. But they have another week. They're here a week longer than we are.
Her hardest vote this year
Health care is not the hardest vote I've had this year. Not by far. That was the [war] supplemental. That was the worst. Energy was a heavy lift. But you're talking substance. You're discussing issues with people. But we had never thought we'd have to do another supplemental. Not that we would have to vote for. But then the president brought home the IMF and Republicans all took a hike. Then we were stuck with it. Oh brother! That was the hardest. Budget, stimulus, those were all heavy lifts. None of it is easy. But you get ready for things like energy, health, education, and budget. But the supplemental? That's where we have to do a heavy lift? We all said we were never ever voting for this again. But in any event, I think the administration knows that that was it.
Do you need more time?
You don't need more time. The time is now. People have been waiting so long for this. I had a friend who was getting married, I said "You're getting married, I didn't know about all this!" She said, "I need health benefits."
Photo credit: Nelson Ching -- Bloomberg News Photo .
Posted by: truck1 | July 22, 2009 6:26 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: rldestef | July 22, 2009 6:54 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: eRobin1 | July 22, 2009 6:55 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: jkaren | July 22, 2009 7:21 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: wapomadness | July 22, 2009 7:47 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: AntonioSosa | July 22, 2009 7:47 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: AntonioSosa | July 22, 2009 7:50 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: AntonioSosa | July 22, 2009 7:54 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: AntonioSosa | July 22, 2009 7:57 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Aprogressiveindependent | July 22, 2009 8:58 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: truck1 | July 22, 2009 9:04 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: JackSmith1 | July 22, 2009 10:24 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: fallsmeadjc | July 22, 2009 10:30 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: AntonioSosa | July 23, 2009 12:55 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: CitizenJay | July 23, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: notmd | July 23, 2009 2:58 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.