Pelosi Raises Banner Of Public Plan In Response To Insurers’ Attacks
The health insurance industry's recent attacks on health-overhaul legislation only strengthens the case for the federal government to offer a competing health plan, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Thursday, the Associated Press reports. The attacks include television ads and industry-sponsored studies that say premiums would increase more if reform legislation passes (Werner, 10/15).
"I want our conferees to have the most muscle for the middle class when they go to the table," Pelosi told reporters on Capitol Hill, CNN reports. "Why would you throw [people] into the lion's den of the insurance industry without the leverage [of a public option]? Our House position is what we will go in there to fight..." The Senate Finance Committee passed a bill without the public insurer, but that bill will be combined with the more liberal health committee's version. If the merged bill clears the Senate, House and Senate lawmakers will negotiate yet another legislative merger before the final vote (10/15).
Meanwhile, the AFL-CIO, a major union coalition, along with other labor groups has insisted that the legislation include the public plan, the Associated Press reports in a separate story. Despite their alliance with Democrats, the labor groups are "working to derail a plan in the Finance bill that slaps a $200 billion excise tax on expensive health care policies." They object to the tax, as well as the absence of the public plan. The unions invested $46 million in President Obama's campaign, not to mention the sweat equity of hordes of campaign volunteers. A Republican Senator pointed out, that "the base expects to be at the table on the issues of the day. Organized labor has a lot invested in the Obama administration" (Fram, 10/15).