Pelosi: House Dems can support Obama healthcare proposal

“We’re very pleased with what the president put up on the Internet,”
Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Tuesday at a news conference.

Pelosi also didn’t object to the lack of a public insurance
plan in Obama’s bill. Liberals in the House have pled for Obama to support the
public option, and had included it in their bill as a way to ensure competition
with private insurance and to drive down healthcare costs.

“There are other ways to do that,” Pelosi said. “We intend
to do that in the bill. [The public option] seems to me the best way to us, but
that will depend on what the Senate can pass on the Senate side.”

She added that President Barack Obama’s
proposal unveiled on Monday takes positions similar to those in the bill House
Democrats approved last year.

The $950 billion White House healthcare proposal partially
pays for increased coverage for about 30 million more Americans by levying a
tax on high-cost healthcare plans, which wasn’t in the House bill but was
included in Senate legislation.

{mosads}The White House bill includes a modified version of the tax
that seeks to protect middle-class union members from paying it.

Pelosi endorsed that proposal, stating that “the pay-for in
it is something that Democrats in the House can support.”

House and Senate Democrats are planning votes in coming days
on other healthcare-related items to set the stage for a final push on the
comprehensive healthcare bill.

The House will vote Wednesday on a repeal of the anti-trust
exemption for health insurers. The Democrats’ bill seeks to allow federal
regulators at the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission to
investigate collusion between healthcare companies. Congress exempted those
firms from antitrust laws in 1945.

“We’ll be taking comprehensive health reform shortly,”
Pelosi said. “We want to make sure that in paving the way for that legislation,
we’re paving the way for fairness.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Tuesday that
an extension of current Medicare doctor payment rates, scheduled to decrease at
the end of the month, will be attached to a bill prolonging unemployment
benefits and small business tax provisions set to expire on Feb. 28.

The extension of Medicare payment rates, known as the
“doc fix,” has been regularly approved by Congress in recent years to
keep doctors from seeing a severe drop in their payments.

Tags Barack Obama Harry Reid

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