Gibbs: By Next Week Health Bill Will Pass

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs on "Face the Nation," Sunday, March 14, 2010. Chris Usher/CBS

In the final crunch on health care reform legislation, there are serious questions for President Obama. Does he have the votes to pass it? If the legislation passes, who will be helped by it? And who will pay for it?

The White House and Democrats say they'll have the votes to pass health care toward the end of the week, though the Democratic vote counter, James Clyburn (D-S.C.), has said he doesn't yet have the votes to pass legislation.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs weighed in on the health care reform debate.

"As the Congressional Budget Office scores the rest of this bill, members of the House will get a closer look, and take a closer look at each of the provisions in it and make up their minds," said Mr. Gibbs. "We do believe that a week from today we'll be talking about a bill that has passed the house, not being considered by the House."

Gibbs added that he thought Members of the House would see that small businesses would be helped in buying insurance for their employees, and that families with worries of discrimination because of pre-existing conditions would no longer have to worry about those conditions.

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When asked about what would be in the final bill - would there be a Medicare payroll tax increase, would taxes on big insurance plans would rise, or would the "kickbacks" for Nebraska and Louisiana in the House bill remain - Gibbs had a simple answer:

"The special deals that the President found objectionable are indeed out of this legislation," said Gibbs. "We understand that the underlying legislation that the house will consider is the bill that passed the Senate in December with 60 votes, a super majority. So we understand the basis of what this bill is going to be."

He added, "I believe that people are going to look at this not because of what is politically right or wrong but what's the best thing to do for the American people. I think without a doubt, if we do nothing, we know what's going to happen: Our health insurance rates are going to skyrocket."

Gibbs also said that the House would not have to pass a bill that they didn't like.

"Just as the president is speaking with Members of the House about passing the underlying Senate bill, I know he's also talking to members of the Senate about making sure that the corrections that he believes have to be [attached] to the Senate bill are indeed taken up and passed," said Gibbs. "The president is working on both of those tracks in order to get that done."

He continued, "As Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi has said, this is the week. This is the week where we will have this important vote. The president has . . . a very important trip to Indonesia and Australia in a very vital part of the world. We need to get these corrections done before the Senate leaves the week after."

Finally, Gibbs said, "This time next week, [we] won't be talking about a proposal in the House. [We]'ll be talking about the House having passed that proposal and us being a signature away from health care reform in this country."
  • David Riedel

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