While expressing enthusiasm for the Medicare buy-in, House Speaker Pelosi isn't ready to sign onto the Senate compromise yet.
"Let’s see what it is. It might come as a surprise. We haven’t seen the paper from the senate. There is certainly a great deal of appeal about putting people 55 and older on medicare. That’s something people in the House have advocated for years."
She also showed some flexibility on the public option, but is still in wait-and-see mode:
"Well what I said was a two-part statement: The president has said, we believe, the House believes that the public option is the best way to hold the insurance companies honest, keep them honest and also to increase competition. If you have a better way, put it on the table. When we see something from the Senate, we’ll be able to make a judgment about that."
Brian Beutler adds that she's not ready to agree to the ping-pong. (Here's the ping-pong primer in case you need a refresher.)
Pelosi said there's "not much" chance the House will simply take up the Senate bill (a process known informally as "ping ponging") but that differences between the two packages will be resolved in a conference between the two chambers.
"We haven't seen their bill," she said. "We don't know what their amendment process will be. But we would like to see a full conference."
There's a great deal of skepticism in her caucus about the compromise. Jerry Nadler expresses it well:
"The public option has certain purposes," he said on Wednesday afternoon. "If those purposes are all satisfied somehow, some other way, we’d have to take a look at. If they weren’t, that would be a problem."
"The basic idea of allowing Medicare to go to people under 55 is a wonderful idea," Nadler said. "Some of us have thought we ought to do that for a long time. But–and I hate to use this term–the devil is in the details.
"I mean, I gather that people are going to have to pay a premium for it. And the question is, how big is the premium, how affordable is it? There’ll have to be a Medigap plan, too, presumably. What’s the affordability? What are the subsidies? We have to look at all of that stuff before we can really talk intelligently about it."
This isn't a done deal yet.
Update: Ryan Grim reports this as the public option's obituary and Sargent says that it signals Pelosi "softening on the public option." I still read this as a cautious "we'll see" from Pelosi on the Senate compromise, but agree that she's showing an opening for it.
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