Pelosi in Philly: Keep the public option

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi visits Jefferson Hospital at 9th and Walnut streets, with US Reps Allyson Schwartz, Robert Brady and Chaka Fattah.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi visits Jefferson Hospital at 9th and Walnut streets, with US Reps Allyson Schwartz, Robert Brady and Chaka Fattah. (Chris Krewson)
Posted: September 21, 2009

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said during a visit to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital today that a government-run insurance program must be in the final version of health-care reform, even as other Democratic leaders have suggested it could pass without the provision.

"No bill can pass the House of Representatives without a public option in it," Pelosi said, after touring the hospital emergency room.

She was joined by U.S. Reps. Bob Brady, Chaka Fattah and Allyson Schwartz, all Philadelphia-area Democrats at an event designed to highlight the need for passage of legislation to control health-care costs and expand access to insurance coverage.

Pelosi said the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the "public option" of health insurance would squeeze $100 billion in costs from the system over 10 years because of competition with private insurers. "That's hard to ignore," she said.

The California Democrat also said that a government-run alternative is necessary to "hold the insurance companies to the reforms we have in the bill," including a ban on denying coverage for preexisting conditions and a prohibition of imposing lifetime caps on coverage.

Pelosi said that a health reform will pass the Congress "within weeks."

Contact staff writer Thomas Fitzgerald at 215-854-2718 or tfitzgerald@phillynews.com.

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