Pelosi Says House Will Pass Health Bill; Measure Gains AARP, AMA Backing
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., says she will have enough votes to pass Democratic health care legislation by Saturday. "The statement, however, is a tacit acknowledgement that she doesn't have them yet," The Hill reports. "'We will,' Pelosi said, when asked if she had the 218 votes needed to pass the $1.055 trillion bill. Obama will make a final push before the vote by traveling to Capitol Hill on Friday for a meeting with House Democrats, according to a White House aide" (Soraghan, 11/5).
Minority Leader Steny Hoyer also predicts the bill will pass Saturday, The Associated Press reports. "The Maryland Democrat said in an interview with wire service reporters Thursday that House leaders will have the 218 votes needed to pass the sweeping bill, presuming a couple final issues are resolved. He acknowledged that the vote will be close. Hoyer said language on abortion and illegal immigrants was still being worked out but predicted those issues could be solved in time for Saturday's debate and vote on the legislation that President Barack Obama has made his top domestic priority" (11/5).
Bloomberg: "'It's going to be close,' Hoyer said in an interview with news service reporters today. 'This is a huge undertaking; there are legitimate concerns.' Hoyer said he expected the House to vote Nov. 7. With no Republican support expected, Democrats need 218 votes to pass the measure. 'We are probably right at about 218 right now,' Hoyer said. That total includes some who want assurance the legislation sufficiently restricts government financing of abortions or subsidies for undocumented workers, he said" (Rowley, 11/5).
In a second article, The Hill reports that "Pelosi said during her weekly press conference that she and other Democratic leaders have not decided whether or not to allow changes submitted by Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D-Ind.) to clarify language on federal funding for abortions 40-some pro-life Democrats, led by Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), have threatened to oppose the bill over concerns about the strength of provisions in the bill barring federal funds for pregnancy termination. House leaders have maintained throughout the healthcare debate, though, that the bill does not and will not allow such funding" (O'Brien, 11/5).
Meanwhile, "AARP, the powerful lobbying group for older Americans, endorsed the U.S. House of Representatives healthcare reform bill on Thursday, bolstering support for the measure as it heads toward a close floor vote on Saturday," Reuters reports. "The group said the bill would help older Americans pay for their prescription drug coverage and strengthen Medicare, the government-run health program for the elderly" (Smith, 11/5).
The Washington Post: "The AARP, the nation's largest and most influential association of older Americans, endorsed the House health-care bill Thursday morning and vowed to lobby House members in advance of Saturday's historic vote." AARP Vice President Nancy A LeaMond said the House Democrat's measure met the organization's top goals for reform, including strengthening Medicare. "'This gives the bill a very important boost,' said Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), a member of the House leadership. 'Some of our members are very nervous about how this bill has been received by seniors. For AARP to endorse it provides important validation'" (Montgomery, 11/5).
The Cleveland Plain Dealer: The American Medical Association also today announced it will support the health reform bill, "providing an important boost to Democrats hoping for passage this Saturday." But AMA President Dr. J. James Rohack also urged Congress "to simultaneously pass a companion bill to fix Medicare's payment system" and added that both steps "'are essential' to achieving meaningful reform this year" (Koff, 11/5).
CNN Political Ticker: In offering the AMA's endorsement of the House Democratic bill, Rohack said the measure was "'not a perfect representation of our views,' but is close enough to warrant the support of the organization."
Boston Globe's Political Intelligence: "President Obama, in a surprise appearance during the regular press briefing, bragged this afternoon about the support for the Democratic health care bill by the AARP and the American Medical Association, saying the endorsements bring reform closer than ever." He said the AARP's backing was "no small endorsement" and that it should "rebut criticism that the proposals would hurt seniors." Similarly, he said the AMA's support was important because "the doctors of America know what needs to be fixed with our health care system" (Rhee, 11/5).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.