Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Tuesday the House can pass a healthcare bill without a public option.
“My opinion now is that it is yes,” Hoyer (D-Md.) said at his weekly press conference in response to a direct question.
Hoyer, who supports a public option, said “the guts” of the healthcare bill still provide insurance coverage to 30 million people who now do not have affordable, quality healthcare.
“Reid does not have the votes for a public option so in a world of alternatives you gotta focus on what you can get,” Hoyer said.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) signaled last week that Democats would drop the public option from their bill, and Monday night it became clear that they would also drop a proposal to allow uninsured people as young as 55 to get healthcare through Medicare. Centrist senators including Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) said they could not live with the Medicare buy-in.
The House healthcare bill included a public option, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has been adamant that a healthcare bill would have to include a public option to be approved by the House.
Last week, however, she showed a willingness to compromise by declining to criticize the Senate plan to replace the public option with a new proposal that included the Medicare buy-in.
Hoyer said there will need to be a conference on healthcare between the two chambers, and that the House will not simply approve whatever healthcare bill emerges from the Senate.
That’s “not going to happen. There are significant, important differences between what the Senate is proposing and what we proposed and those matters will have to be discussed and it will take some time to resolve those differences,” he said.
Hoyer said he continues to support the public option, but acknowledged it may be impossible to get the votes for it in the Senate.
“There is no doubt that we believe the public option was a positive addition; we’re for it. I’m not discussing the perfect, I’m discussing the possible.”