Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday that no decisions have been made yet on whether to include additional language on abortion in the Democratic health care bill or on whether to allow a vote she promised earlier this year on a single-payer substitute authored by Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.).
“We may not have any amendments,— she said. However, the Speaker clarified later that Republicans would be given an opportunity to offer their 219-page alternative bill.
Pelosi also explained the decision to drop a provision authored by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) that would have allowed states to opt-in to a single-payer health care system. She said Democratic leaders were meeting President Barack Obama’s promise that if people like the coverage they have, they can keep it.
She later refused to answer a question about whether additional language restricting the ability of illegal immigrants to buy health insurance would be included.
Pelosi also declined to say that she already had the 218 votes she needs to pass the bill, but exulted in the two Democratic victories in House special elections Tuesday.
“Tuesday night, we won two more votes for health care,— she said. “Health care was the issue— in both races, she said.
Pelosi also criticized the Republican plan, which the Congressional Budget Office estimated would cover just 3 million of the uninsured but cut the deficit $68 billion over the next decade and lower insurance rates modestly. Pelosi said the Democratic plan would cover 36 million people and eliminate discrimination based on pre-existing conditions, while noting that the Republican plan allows insurance companies to continue their current practices.
“It’s scandalous,— Pelosi said of the discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions.