House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Presses Demorats to Support Public Medicare Plan

The caucus will meet again Wednesday evening to retake the Democratic temperature. If the 218 votes are there, the party will plow forward and go to conference committee negotiations with a strong hand, Beyond Chron reports.

It was also reported, Pelosi cited preliminary estimates by the Congressional Budget Office that various plans being debated by House Democrats for the biggest health-care expansion in four decades would cut the deficit over both the short and long term.

“Whatever choice we make will reduce the deficit,” the California Democrat told reporters yesterday in Washington, “not only under 10 years but over 20 years.”

While the estimate may help the lawmakers overcome concern about the legislation’s cost, House and Senate Democrats are still grappling with issues dividing them, such as whether to set up a government-run health-insurance program -- a key feature of the House plan to cut costs -- and whether to require employers to provide their workers insurance.

Three House panels approved legislation in July that would have cost more than $1 trillion over 10 years. A member of Pelosi’s Democratic leadership team said yesterday the revised measures would come in lower, putting them roughly in line with proposed Senate legislation, Bloomberg reports.

News agencies also report, House leaders count around 200 votes for a public plan tied to Medicare, Democratic sources said -- within striking distance of the 218 votes they need to push a package through the House.

"We're reaching critical mass to bring the votes together," said Rep. Christopher Van Hollen (D-Md.), a member of the House leadership.

Pelosi asked Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) to call every House Democrat on Wednesday to determine where they stand, and told Democrats that she would call another caucus meeting -- perhaps as soon as Wednesday night -- before making a final decision, the participant said. But Rules Committee Chairman Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), whose panel is charged with blending the package that emerged in July from three separate House committees, said momentum is building behind a plan tied to Medicare rates, The Washington Post reports.

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