Pelosi: Single-Payer Amendment Breaks Obama's Health Care Promise

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The Huffington Post

Pelosi: Single-Payer Amendment Breaks Obama's Health Care Promise

by
Ryan Grim

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi speaks during her weekly news conference at the US Capitol in Washington, DC. (AFP/Getty Images/Mark Wilson)

An amendment to allow states to pursue single-payer health care without incurring insurance-industry lawsuits was stripped from the House bill, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday, adding that it would break President Obama's commitment to people keeping their current insurance plan if they like it.

She also said that she had yet to decide whether to allow a vote on a separate amendment from Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) that would replace the entire health care bill with a single-payer system. "We are probably going to be addressing some of those issues in the next 24 hours," she told HuffPost.

The amendment to allow states to individually implement single-payer was sponsored by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) and passed the Education and Labor Committee's version of the health care bill. There were shenanigans involved, with Republicans joining Kucinich not because they supported the bill but because they wanted to create mischief. (Asked about the GOP position, Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) said that the party's opposition to single-payer health care trumps its support of states' rights.)

"The three chairmen blended the bills; that was in one of the bills. And in the harmonizing of the legislation, the decision was made not to go forward with that," Pelosi said of the Kucinich amendment. The Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce Committees also passed versions of the health care bill.

Kucinich tells HuffPost that his amendment was scored by the Congressional Budget Office and that it is deficit neutral. The amendment would prevent insurers from suing states after they enact single-payer.

Pelosi said, however, that it was unclear what the overall effect of it would be. It's hard to know, of course, whether and when states would enact single-payer systems.

"All of our decisions are based on what we have to be answerable for in terms of the Congressional Budget Office, about what the cost will be," she said.

"And what does that mean? What does it mean to Medicare? What does it mean to others: If you like what you have now, you can keep it. The President made that commitment and our legislation honors that commitment."

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