Pelosi Says House Health Bill Will Have Public Option
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi predicted Monday that a final version of the House health care legislation will pass in the next few weeks with a public option intact, according to The Associated Press/Philly.com: "'No bill can pass the House of Representatives without a public option in it,' Pelosi, D-Calif., said at a press conference after a private tour of Thomas Jefferson University Hospital with a group of physicians and local Congressional Democrats. 'The status quo cannot continue,' she said. 'The system is unsustainable in terms of the escalating costs ... not only of health care, but also health insurance'" (Loviglio, 9/21).
The Hill: Pelosi's push "means this week will be crucial for healthcare in both chambers. It also makes it more likely that the House bill will include an income surtax on the wealthy and a public option more to the liking of liberals in her caucus." But "[j]umping ahead of the Senate could irritate Blue Dog Democrats and politically vulnerable lawmakers who don't want to vote on liberal proposals they see as having little chance of becoming law. Liberals want to counter the Senate Finance Committee's more conservative-leaning plan" (Soraghan, 9/21).
Meanwhile, in an article co-published by Politico, ProPublica reports that "Arkansas Rep. Mike Ross -- a Blue Dog Democrat playing a key role in the health care debate -- sold a piece of commercial property in 2007 for substantially more than a county assessment and an independent appraisal say it was worth. The buyer: an Arkansas-based pharmacy chain with a keen interest in how the debate plays out." The real estate was sold to USA Drug for $420,000-- "an eye-popping number for real estate in the tiny train and lumber town about 100 miles southwest of Little Rock." The owner of the drug company also paid the Rosses for the pharmacy's assets and a non-compete agreement, bringing "the total value of the transaction to between $1 million and $1.67 million." The pharmaceutical industry is a major lobbying force in Congress, and "Ross, who belongs to the 52-member Congressional Community Pharmacy Coalition, has introduced and supported legislation backed by pharmacy trade groups" (Stern, 9/22).