Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House and Senate Democratic leaders held a brief press availability this afternoon following the bipartisan meeting on health insurance reform hosted by President Obama at Blair House. Below are the Speaker’s opening remarks and answer to one question:
“Thank you, Mr. Leader. I agree with the distinguished Leader, our President is, indeed, a great leader in that he has a vision for our country and about how we move forward with health insurance reform. He is striving to build consensus. He is listening for any common ground and extending an invitation for that.
“And so I’m hopeful that something may come of it. I’m not overly optimistic we would get Republican votes for the bill, but that doesn’t mean we couldn’t incorporate some of their good ideas into legislation should they put some on the table.
“The President one year ago had us all here at the White House, March 5th, where he had his health summit, which was bipartisan at the time and began the debate, which over the past year within the committees of jurisdiction and in the Congress, he has sought bipartisan support that continued until today. I hope that something will come of this.
“I use the analogy of the kitchen tables. We sat around the kitchen—that table in that room. We have to represent the aspirations of Americans as they sit around their kitchen tables concerned about their jobs, the education of their children as well as their health care cost and how they are going to pay their medical bills.
“Those people who are, again, struck with illness or pre-existing conditions and the rest want us to act. They want results. We can’t say to them at the end of the day: “Well, we had an idea. We had a vision. We had a majority, but the process did not allow us to make a change for your lives.”
“We need to have the courage to get this job done and we will. And I think today took us a step closer to passing health care, to improve health care, to lower costs, and to make it much more accessible to many more Americans. I salute the President for his leadership.”
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Q: [Inaudible]…Republican’s court now?
“The fact is, is that we are going to move forward. The ball is in everybody’s court to try to find some common ground on how we move forward. Mr. Durbin pointed out a defining difference that emerged in this meeting, though, and that is in order to make the changes, in order to end discrimination of pre-existing condition and all the reform that we want to make, in order to hold in the insurance companies accountable, there had to be some regulation of the insurance industry. That seemed to be the big separation between the Democrats and the Republicans. Whether that can be bridged remains to be seen.”
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