WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that the case is growing stronger for allowing the government to sell health insurance in competition with private companies, saying recent attacks from the industry should dispel any doubts.
"The need for a public option is very clear," the California Democrat told reporters at her weekly news conference. "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 was referring to an industry-funded study that said insurance premiums would rise under health overhaul legislation advanced by the Senate Finance Committee this week. She also referenced an insurance industry ad campaign aimed at seniors.
In the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is weighing whether to include some version of a public plan as he works to merge the Finance bill with a more liberal version approved by the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
Women testify before panel on coverage
When Amanda Buchanan and her schoolteacher husband talked about having a second baby, it felt as though there were three people at the table, she told a Senate committee Thursday: "Myself, my husband and our insurance policy." Under her individual policy, pregnancy had a separate $5,000 deductible and required that she pay 20 percent of all remaining expenses. Buchanan, 32, of Weiser, Idaho, had another child, but dropped her policy to use the money instead to pay off the bills from the delivery.
Buchanan and several other women on Thursday shared examples of disparities in coverage with a subcommittee of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
Peggy Robertson of Colorado testified that because she had already given birth via cesarean, when she tried to get an individual policy in Colorado, her insurance company considered it a pre-existing condition and wouldn't insure her unless she could prove she had been sterilized.
Some women attended the hearing wearing T-shirts that said, "I am not a pre-existing condition."
Doctors' campaign: The American Medical Association is launching a TV ad campaign to press Congress to approve higher payments for doctors treating Medicare patients. The doctors group announced the ads Thursday, a day after Democrats agreed to push a $247 billion bill through the Senate next week averting scheduled cuts in physicians' Medicare fees. A 21 percent reduction is scheduled for January. The spots will run in 12 states with wavering senators of both parties, including North Carolina, Florida and Alaska, and in Washington, D.C.