Pelosi rejects proposal to skirt government healthcare

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has rejected a Senate proposal floated in recent days to create privately-run healthcare cooperatives in place of government-run insurance plans.

Pelosi told reporters on Thursday morning that House Democrats want healthcare reform to include a government-run insurance option to ensure that all Americans can receive affordable healthcare.

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“Not instead of a public option, no,” Pelosi said when asked about the proposal unveiled by some Senate Democrats to set up privately-run co-ops.

“In our house there is strong support for a public option,” Pelosi said.

The Democratic leader, however, said that a government-run plan should not have to depend on subsidies from the government and should be put on a “level playing field” with private plans.

“It should be actuarially sound, it should be administratively self-sufficient. It should be a real competitor with the private sector and not have an unfair advantage.”

Republicans such as Sen. Chuck Grassley (Iowa), the ranking member on the Senate Finance Committee, have charged that creation of a widely available public insurance plan would lead to a single-payer healthcare system where the government would dominate.

Democrats such as Sens. Mary Landrieu (La.), Ben Nelson (Neb.), Tom Carper (Del.) and Maria Cantwell (Wash.) have been reluctant to sign onto a robust government-run insurance plan, which liberals favor.

Senate Republicans and Democrats who met with President Obama on Wednesday raised a possible compromise: creating non-profit cooperatives to expand insurance coverage.

Co-ops would not be controlled by the government but would compete with private, for-profit health plans.

Although the proposal has gained momentum in the Senate in recent days, Pelosi dismissed the idea as a possible substitute for government-managed healthcare.  

Pelosi also vowed Thursday that Democrats would find ways to pay for the full cost of healthcare reform.

Pelosi’s pledge puts pressure on lawmakers to raise taxes or find other ways to finance a healthcare overhaul, which will likely exceed a trillion dollars.  

“That is our intention, that is the work we’re doing now,” Pelosi told reporters. “It will be paid for.”

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