Nancy Pelosi is on a mission to pass the strongest public option on the table in the House—a plan that would pay doctors the same rates as Medicare—and she's close to having enough votes, she told fellow Dems last night. The plan would cost just $871 billion, according to preliminary estimates, putting it under President Obama’s $900 billion target, and be deficit neutral for at least 10 years. Supporters argue that it would pressure private insurers to lower their reimbursement rates, pushing down health care costs.
Pelosi says she has 200 votes for the plan, and she’s asked Majority Whip James Clyburn to survey members today and see if he can scare up the other 18 needed. “We are very close, and I count tough,” said Pelosi. But Blue Dogs and other moderates vehemently oppose the plan. It would also mean a large gulf between the House and Senate bills, though Pelosi believes that will strengthen the House’s negotiating power.