Pelosi Flexible on Final Form of Public Option

Posted October 8, 2009 at 11:20am

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is signaling she is flexible on the final form of a public insurance option in the health care overhaul and is seeking budget scores on both the preferred liberal and moderate approaches before making a final call.

“Members have rallied to a place where there will be the votes for a public option,— Pelosi told reporters at a Thursday press conference. “Now it’s a question of which one.—

Pelosi has made clear she supports the version of the provision that liberals are demanding — a robust public plan tied to Medicare rates. She said that approach is “very close— to garnering the support to pass, before adding, “This is not about whether you have the votes. … I think that either one of them would pass on the floor.—

Many moderates prefer a plan with negotiated rates, but Pelosi noted so far, that approach saves $85 billion less. She said she has asked the Congressional Budget Office to try to find more savings in that version. “We’ll see. Members will see what the trade-offs are,— she said.

Democrats are asking the CBO to consider two different versions of the plan with negotiated rates. One would trigger rates pegged to Medicare if costs rise to quickly, and the other would move more people into Medicaid.

Pelosi also said Democrats are exploring the possibility of generating more revenue through a windfall profits tax on insurance and drug companies. She described those conversations as “very preliminary.—