Pelosi Endorses Senate Agreement on Medicare Buy-In as Part of Reform
On Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) endorsed a plan the Senate is considering that would expand Medicare coverage to people ages 55 to 64, the Washington Post reports.
The proposal is being floated as part of an alternative to the public option.
She said, "There's certainly a great deal of appeal" in the idea, but she stopped short of endorsing the entire alternative proposal, which also calls for establishing a system of national health plans managed by the Office of Personnel Management and incorporating a trigger for a public option if private insurers do not comply with new regulations. She said she still would prefer the creation of a government-run public option, which the House reform bill (HR 3962) includes (Goldstein, Washington Post, 12/11).
Pelosi also said she hopes Congress can complete work on reform legislation before lawmakers leave for the holiday recess. She said that timeline depends on when the Senate passes its bill (HR 3590).
According to Pelosi, consolidating the bills should not be extremely difficult because the House and Senate bills are 75% "in harmony" (Boles, Wall Street Journal, 12/10).
She said that she would consider keeping the House in session for part of the week of Christmas if it meant that Congress could take final action on the bill in 2009 (Epstein, CQ Today, 12/10). However, Pelosi said she would not skip a formal conference committee on the Senate bill to achieve quicker results, which makes it unlikely the two chambers could finish their work before the end of the year, according to Roll Call (Newmyer, Roll Call, 12/10).
In that case, Pelosi said, the passage of an overhaul "will have to be a New Year's present to the American people" (Soraghan, The Hill, 12/10).
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