February 3, 2010

I was on a conference call with Nancy Pelosi Tuesday afternoon, and she was clear: There's not a snowball's chance in hell that the House will vote to pass the Senate health-care bill in its present form.

"Don’t even think of asking us to vote for the Senate bill unless the other bill has passed both houses that will amend it through reconciliation," she said. But she promised several times during the call: "We will get this done."

What the House apparently will vote for is a repeal of the antitrust legislation that exempted the health insurance and malpractice insurers for the past 65 years. She said it will happen next week.

And in case you haven't figured it out yet, the new Democratic mantra is "Jobs, jobs, jobs." Pelosi wove the theme throughout the call.

She talked about job lock ("If you want to leave your job and become a writer or an entrepreneur without worrying about your health insurance, you can do that.")

"Every issue for us has been about jobs. The recovery, the budget, health, education, climate and energy bills – all about the economic well-being of America’s families," she said.

"Healthcare is central because the current system is so unsustainable. It’s not back-burnered," she said. She noted the difference it make "in the economic security of America’s families.

"We have to get this done, we are so very, very close.

She said some senators are calling her, urging her to take the opportunity to put in single payer and the public option. "I have to wonder, is there a market for these things?" she said, noting she didn't think the Senate had the votes for either.

She ended the call with an exhortation.

"It’s a heavy lift," she said. "The other side has endless money, total determination that change will not happen." She said the insurance industries have the "same philosophical backing as the same people who tried to keep Medicare from happening."

"It’s a pretty exciting time. You can’t be discouraged, we have to keep fighting for the American people and our democracy, she said.

"It’s not only about their health, it’s about economic security. We are determined to get that done. If I sound calm, it’s because we will not be deterred from this, we will get it done."

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