Saturday, November 14, 2009

N.J. latest stop in health care tour

health care reform

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Rush Holt toured a Princeton hospital yesterday while stumping for health care reform legislation now before Congress.

"Improving quality of care, lowering costs, offering choice and putting the patient first," Pelosi said of the legislation as she stood with Holt (D-12 Dist.) in a press conference at the University Medical Center in Princeton.

Both Holt and Pelosi defended the public option of government-supported health insurance as providing an alternative to private insurers.

"This option offers strong competition in rates and strong competition in quality care. This will no doubt offer good value and a good price," said Holt, who has held public meetings on the health care reform with residents across his district.

Pelosi acknowledged that other, broader public options had been proposed, but said the alternative offer in the house form of the bill "was written by Ted Kennedy."

The California congresswoman has been traveling across the country -- appearing before students at Harvard University in Cambridge on Friday -- to promote the reform that has been a cornerstone of President Obama's administration.

Members of the House of Representatives passed their version of the bill Nov. 7 by a 220-215 vote. One Republican, Joseph Cao of Louisiana, voted for the bill; 39 Democrats voted against, including John Adler of New Jersey.

In addition to creating the so-called public option, the bill passed by the House would bar insurers from denying people coverage because of pre-existing conditions and set up health care "exchanges," or marketplaces, where consumers could easily shop for coverage.

Critics say the reforms could cost nearly $1 trillion over the next 10 years, but Pelosi yesterday said the house bill includes provisions to cover the costs.

Pelosi was quick to praise Holt for his work on the bill, along with fellow party members Rep. Frank Pallone (D-6th Dist.), and Rob Andrews (D-1st Dist.).

The Senate is now considering its own health care reform bill.

Tom Haydon may be reached

at or (732) 293-4928.