House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said this week that she is not bound by the cost-saving figures hospital and pharmaceutical companies have thus far put on the table to defray the final tally and help launch Obamacare.
"When we're trying to cut costs, certainly we know that there are more costs to be cut in hospitals and pharmaceuticals ... so we'll be subjecting everything to some very harsh scrutiny as we see whether we can get more savings," Pelosi said, according to a report in the Washington Post.
"As we look, there may be some more ways to get money out of pharmaceutical companies,” she added.
Pelosi made her comments in the wake of the nation's hospitals agreeing to forgo $155 billion in government health-care reimbursements, and drug companies promising $80 billion.
The historic measure to revamp nation’s health care has been held up by fiscally conservative Democrats who balk at what might become a Trillion – dollar albatross hung on the nation’s fiscal neck.
Adding to the bill’s troubles are House Democrats who are recalcitrant to vote on the measure before the Senate version is finalized.
"… I don't think the bills will be that dramatically different,” Pelosi said. “Now, we don't know the rest of the Senate proposal, and we're eager to see that, but the House sets the pace at ground zero a good deal of the time."
According to the Associated Press, Obama this week signaled that he did not want to overly pressure the lawmakers. "We just heard today that, well, we may not be able to get the bill out of the Senate by the end of August, or the beginning of August," Obama said. "That's OK. I just want people to keep on working. Just keep working."
In general, ObamaCare would, among other things, insure more Americans - partly through government subsidies; provide a government-run option to compete with private insurers; require large employers to contribute to health coverage; and control Medicaid costs by ramping up an executive branch agency to set reimbursement rates for doctors and hospitals.
As to whether that government-run option or “public option” could ever be tossed from the final bill, Pelosi responded, "I don't think so."
"But it has to be a level playing field," Pelosi explained. "It has to be an option that is administratively sound - actuarially sound, too - and that it's sustainable in every way, has to pay back to the government any start-up funds that it has, so that it can be a true competitor and not a subsidized entity."
Meanwhile negotiations on the contents of the House bill ended Thursday - still without a deal.
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