Thursday, November 1, 2007, 1:15 p.m.
Capitol Building Room H-210
Question: More than 80 House Democrats are supporting a single payer, Canadian-style, Medicare for all healthcare system. It’s HR 676. Why don’t you support it?
Nancy Pelosi: I think we have to move forward with comprehensive healthcare–accessible affordable healthcare for all Americans. It is an issue that is so big that we should try to do that in a bipartisan way, put everything on the table to talk about, to see where we go from there.
Question: Why don’t you support single payer?
Pelosi: I’ve always supported single payer.
Question: Why haven’t you signed onto that bill?
Pelosi: I don’t sign on to any bill. I sign on to naming a bridge for Ann Richards. But the Speaker does not sign on to bills. So, we can get that out of the way right now. On any bill. Here’s what I see on health care. And I hope we can turn this into a national debate. Instead of having the constant debate about–how is this paid for?–let us see what we need to give health care to the American people. And I’m steamed up about this war and the opportunity cost to the war in Iraq. And the President says we can’t afford the investment at the National Institutes of Health, which is not even one week in Iraq. Not even one week in Iraq.
So, when the heads of agencies come to see me and say–we need more money than the President has given us–mind you they are appointees of the President–and they tell me how they see the best possible health system for our country.
And here is what it looks like. It is science and technological based. It’s science based. And we need much more research into the science. It is personalized, customized care for every person. And that is possible the science and technology can take us there.
There is a common record that everyone is on. And the technology is there for us to do that. And it is available to all. Available to all. We have to reach out to our community health centers to get people in the loop. But with the technology, with the science, with the customized care, we will have a healthier America. We will have an America where we have prevention, nutrition, early intervention–as I said, customized care.
It takes investment.
It might be interesting for you to know that 550,000 people in our country each year die of cancer. Our commitment to cancer is $5.5 billion in research every year–not even two weeks in Iraq. We could easily double that. The scientific opportunity is there. The president wants to talk about priorities–let’s talk about what is really important to the American people. I’d rather have a war on cancer than to fritter away many more dollars in Iraq.
And so it is not a question of how it is paid for. The question is–what are we trying to achieve, how much does it cost, how do we shift around the dollars to make that happen? It will be an investment well made because it will result in many more healthy people.
Everybody has their position on how it is paid for–whether it is single payer, employer based– whatever combination thereof. We have to address it. I think it should be addressed in a bipartisan way. But it also should be addressed in enlarging the issues–not how we pay for what we have now, but what it is that we need and how we have public policy that takes us in that direction.
RUSSELL MOKHIBER is the editor of the Corporate Crime Reporter.