At her weekly press conference today, Speaker Pelosi was asked about health care reform and the various proposals being discussed. The Speaker reiterated her strong support for a public option, which President Obama supports:
Q: Last week, you said that there is support in the House for a public option, but it doesn’t appear to be the same in the Senate. Given the snags that they’re hitting in health care negotiations in the Senate, are you concerned that ultimately it will be tough for Congress to pass a bill with the public option in the timeline that the President has laid out?
Speaker Pelosi: I have every confidence that we will have a public option coming out of the House of Representatives that will be one that is actuarially sound, administratively self sufficient, one that contributes, adds to competition, does not eliminate competition. It may not be called a public option, but it will be a level playing field, public option by whatever name, level playing field.
So that is what we will have and we will work to get support for in the House of Representatives. And I feel confident that we will and that what we put together will be reconcilable, conferenceable, whatever the word is, with the Senate of the United States. I feel very comfortable about it.
And I believe that, for us to have substantial health care reform, this has to be a part of it. I’m so pleased that President Obama has been so positive in his statements, as well.
Q: Just to follow up, given the snags in the Senate in the inability to get the votes, are you saying it could be something short of the public option?
Speaker Pelosi: No.
Q:…that you support that ultimately gets to the President?
Speaker Pelosi: No. No, definitely not. I’m not saying that at all. I’m saying we will have a public option in the House that will be real. If it’s not real, it’s no use doing. And if we don’t do a public option, I’m not sure that we have as effective a public health care reform as we wish.
When you talk about snags, we’re on Capitol Hill, we’re in the legislative process. The give and take, the back and forth of different ideas, you may call them snags, we call them the legislative process. And this is a situation where everybody wants to hear everyone’s ideas, put it all on the table, see what it does for the American people, what is it that we can afford, establish our priorities. And that competition of ideas is why we all come here. We don’t all come here because we all think alike on every subject.
And the reform of the health care system in our country, in terms of expanding access to health care, making it affordable, quality, accessible, having prevention and wellness right in the front, reducing cost, retaining choice, this is a tall order, and it isn’t something where you lay it out on a piece of paper and everyone salutes. The vitality of ideas is what will make it workable.
And what this health care reform will be is affordable, quality, accessible, and workable for the American people. It will reduce cost, and it will be paid for.
Two polls released this week show more than three in four Americans want the choice of a public option in health care reform. A new Employee Benefit Research Institute report finds 83% of Americans support creating a new public health insurance plan that anyone can purchase:
In addition, a NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released yesterday found 76% of Americans think having a public option is extremely or quite important: