Published March 01, 2010
President Obama will soon propose a health care bill that will be "much smaller" than the House bill but "big enough" to put the country on a "path" toward health care reform, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Monday.
"In a matter of days, we will have a proposal," Pelosi said, pointing to Obama's forthcoming bill.
"It will be a much smaller proposal than we had in the House bill because that's where we can gain consensus. But it will be big enough to put us on a path of affordable, quality health care for all Americans that holds insurance companies accountable."
Gibbs said while he agrees for the most part with Pelosi that the plan will be well developed, it is unlikely to be written in legislative legalese. But he said the plan will have "a decent amount of overlap" with the proposals on the White House Web site now.
Melody Barnes, a top Obama domestic policy adviser, did not dispute Pelosi's characterization of the new plan as smaller in scope -- and quite possibly in cost -- than either the House or Senate health care bills.
"It's going to be matter of drawing on these different ideas and coming up with the right proposal," Barnes said in an exclusive interview with Fox. "That's what my colleagues are working on. That's what they're talking with Congress about. We'll see what it looks like when the proposal is sent forward."
Asked how White House staff is putting the new proposal together, Barnes said they are "borrowing" from conversations at Thursday's health care summit.
"We're going to be borrowing from those conversations...to come up with a bill that we hope can receive bipartisan support," Barnes said.
Press Secretary Robert Gibbs indicated Friday that the White House would work on GOP ideas for health reform over the weekend. Barnes identified two: tort reform and allowing insurers to sell policies across state lines.
"They (the summit participants) talked about medical malpractice reform and found possible areas of common ground there and so that's something they (White House staff) will be looking at," Barnes said. "They (summit participants) talked about purchasing insurance across state lines doing that, though, in a way to make sure people are treated fairly. So, I think we'll look towards those issues and we will be drawing upon that. The conversation that took place at Blair House was important to us, because we wanted to hear what the leadership in Congress had to say."
Pelosi's remarks came during an event to highlight stimulus spending in Denver. When asked how Democrats could push health care through this year, Pelosi repeated the three-step process she described on Sunday's morning political news shows.
"Freeze the design on the bill. See what the Senate can do; it's essential for us to know what the Senate can do," Pelosi said. "And then we will take up the bill on the House side."
Pelosi added that last Thursday's health care summit wasn't merely for appearances.
"People said it's theater. Theater is about two and a half, three hours. Seven hours is about a commitment a dedicated commitment to get a job done. I heard a few good suggestions that we may be able to work into a bill. The American people can't wait any longer. Now we'll see what we can incorporate into the bill."
Fox News' Major Garrett contributed to this report.