"House Democratic Leader Steny Hoyer said on Tuesday he could back a bill to overhaul the U.S. healthcare system without a so-called public option that would create a government-run insurance program," Reuters reports. Although Hoyer maintained his support for the public option, he said "he believed meaningful legislation to expand coverage could pass without it." His comments came a week after "the top House Democrat, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, said real change would require a public option, which Republicans, insurance companies and some centrist Democrats oppose." Pelosi also said that a health reform measure that did not include a public option would not win House passage (Ferraro, 9/8).
The Hill: Hoyer's comments on Tuesday were similar to remarks he made during the August congressional break, "but went into considerably more detail." The Hill reports that, currently, a public option "that would compete with the private sector is in the bill, but Democratic centrists have expressed concern over the provision and Republicans have signaled it as a deal-breaker."
Hoyer's statements appear "in line with President Barack Obama, who has stressed that the public option 'is not the entirety of healthcare reform.' Obama is to address a joint session of Congress on Wednesday night, and lawmakers will be listening closely to what he says about a public option." The President is scheduled to meet with Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) later on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Hoyer also "indicated that a House vote might not come until after members have a clearer idea of what the Senate intends to do and what can pass. 'I don't have a timetable' for bringing the bill to the floor, Hoyer said. 'There are some of us, myself included, who would like to see what the Senate will do'" (Soraghan, 9/8).
Source: Kaiser Health News