Pelosi: Dems willing to deal on health care

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Friday that Democrats would be willing to compromise with Republicans on a revised health care law if the GOP reaches out to them.

Pelosi said Democrats will continue to fight Republican efforts to scrap the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. But, if Republicans can't get their own fractious caucus to agree on a replacement bill, Pelosi said Democrats would be willing to work with the GOP to improve the existing law.

"We would be able to swallow, I think, some things (that Republicans want), if that's the price to pay to get the rest of it," the California lawmaker said at a newsmaker breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.

Specifically, Pelosi said she would be willing to accept Republicans' plan to expand Health Savings Accounts, which are tax-exempt accounts that people can use to pay for medical expenses. The Republican health care bill, called the American Health Care Act, would increase the amount of contributions that people can make to their accounts from $3,400 to $6,550 for individuals and from $6,750 to $13,100 for families.

Pelosi said she doesn't like that idea but would be willing to include it in a compromise bill if Republicans were willing to accept the expansion of Medicaid, which provides care for low-income families and disabled Americans. Obamacare expanded the number of people who were eligible for Medicaid. The Republican plan would phase out that expansion.

"Would they (Republicans) accept the expansion of Medicaid? That would be very important," Pelosi said.

Still, the Democratic leader said she is skeptical that House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and other Republican leaders would ask for Democratic help, even if their bill fails to pass because of a lack of support within the GOP.

"I would hope that if it doesn't pass, they would make an overture," Pelosi said. "But they may not give up. They may say, 'OK, we didn't pass this, let's go back to the drawing board.' "

She said Republicans may be forced to do just that after they see how much their bill is going to cost and how many Americans could lose their health care coverage if it passes. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office is expected to come out with its estimate of those numbers on Monday.

Pelosi pointed to a prediction by Brookings Institution experts on Thursday that the CBO report will estimate that 15 million people will lose their health care coverage if the Republican bill is approved.

"They (Republicans) do not know what they're talking about (without seeing the CBO estimates)," she said.

USA TODAY


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