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"Anyone who had any doubts about the need for such an option need only look at the behavior of the health insurance industry this week," Pelosi said. "The idea that we would have health insurance reform without a public option becomes less likely."

If there was any doubt, that doubt now appears to be dispelled. Pelosi will push for the strongest public option available in the House legislation.

TPM characterizes Pelosi as "Coming out Swinging"

Speaking at her weekly press conference just off the House floor moments ago, Speaker Nancy Pelosi made her most impassioned argument in weeks, for including a public option in comprehensive health care reform legislation, arguing against the idea, favored by some conservative Democrats, of mandating that people buy health insurance, and then throwing them into what she called the "lion's den" of the private insurance industry.

In so doing, Pelosi came closer than any member of the Democratic leadership has thusfar to suggesting that the individual mandate should be conditional on the inclusion of a public option.

Although it's been clear for months that the House health overhaul bill would likely include a public plan, its design remains unsettled. However, the stronger version favored by liberals — one that would use reimbursement rates to providers based on Medicare rates — appears to be gaining favor. Pelosi favors that version though she said a final decision hadn't been made.

Our Speaker also has some words for the folks who egged on the "Town Hall Tantrums":

She also said the House was now considering adding to its health care bill a $6.7 billion-a-year fee on insurance companies that is part of the Senate Finance package.

"There are some things we'd like to see happen to the insurance companies that they might not like," Pelosi said.

The AP article notes the various "compromises" being weighed by Reid and his RepubliCrat masters, and while Pelosi will not comment on supporting or opposing (note how the AP article muddles up the syntax: "out or in") it seems fairly clear that her intent is go full-bore so as to bend the final legislation as much towards a robust public option as the House possibly can.  That is about as much as we could hope to expect from the House, and it's a good sign that this is where the goalposts will be set.

"I want to send our conferees to the table with the most muscle for the middle class," she said.

Amen to that.

Originally posted to Dartagnan on Thu Oct 15, 2009 at 10:36 AM PDT.

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