‘Public Option’ Health Care Plan Remains ‘Very Popular in the Public,’ Pelosi Says

By Nicholas Ballasy | February 26, 2010 | 7:02 PM EST

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif. addresses the U.S. Conference of Mayors winter meeting in Washington on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2010. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

(CNSNews.com) - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters at her weekly press briefing Friday that the public option “remains very popular in the public.”
When asked to what extent the Republicans will have a voice in the process of passing health care reform legislation, Pelosi reiterated her support for the public option health plan.
“Some of the ideas that were put forth yesterday [at the Health Care Summit hosted by President Obama] have some possibilities and ask I say, I don’t ever think that – I don’t know, I would hope that we can get some Republican votes but it doesn’t matter if they have a good idea that would work for the American people we should try to incorporate it and some – quite frankly, largely what we heard from Republicans yesterday was about process and let’s start all over,” Pelosi said.  
“But, for those who were making suggestions, they talked about selling insurance across state lines, talked about the nature of the exchanges,” she said at her weekly press briefing held Friday.
“It wasn’t even a question of whether there would be an exchange. It was, ‘what are some of the other changes we could make in the exchanges?’ And that gives me a good opportunity to say, we’ve come a long way since last March 5 on this legislation. I don’t know if you recall, but Senator Grassley at that time questioned the merit of a public option which, as you know, still remains very popular in the public.”
On October 21, 2009, Gallup reported its findings from a poll conducted Oct. 16-19 which said that 50% of those surveyed were in favor of a government-run public option health care plan and 46% were opposed.
However, a Gallup poll released on November 13, 2009 found that the majority of Americans do not think health care coverage is the government’s responsibility.
“Certainly the federal government's role in the nation's healthcare system has been widely and vigorously debated over the last several months, including much focus on the ‘public option.’ These data suggest that one result of the debate has been a net decrease in Americans' agreement that ensuring all Americans have healthcare coverage is an appropriate role for the federal government,” Gallup reported.
Another Gallup poll released December 16, 2009 found that the majority of Americans would advise their member of Congress to vote against the health care bill.
The White House and many Democratic leaders including House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) have recently indicated that the public option is no longer a feasible idea because it lacks the votes for passage in the Senate.
“I think that it [the public option] is obviously an item that the president has decided — he was for the public option as well — is not something that perhaps the Senate can buy,” Hoyer said on Tuesday, February 23.  
“We have seen, obviously, that though there are some that are supportive of this [the public option], there isn’t enough political support in a majority to get this through,” White House spokesperson Robert Gibbs said Tuesday, Feb. 23.