House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced her intent to bring a strong public option to the table when House and Senate lawmakers convene to resolve differences in their respective healthcare bills.
The Congressional Budget Office has been examining three potential ways for crafting a public plan in the House reform bill, one of which would base reimbursement at Medicare rates plus 5%. This “robust option” has been previously estimated to save up to $110 billion over 10 years, “and how can you ignore that?” said Pelosi, who believes such an option would keep the insurance companies honest and provide more coverage alternatives to the middle class. CBO figures on how much each public option provision would save could be released within the week, Pelosi's staff has indicated.
Pelosi said that a provision in the Senate Finance Committee bill to impose a flat fee on insurance companies based on market share might be considered as one of a number of options to offset the costs of the House reform bill. The measure could potentially generate $40 billion over 10 years. In the meantime, a previously discussed “windfall” tax on insurers “seems to be on the back burner,” a Pelosi aide said.