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Pelosi Cool to Senate Health Care Bill

5209744House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was lukewarm about Senator Max Baucus' health care proposal today. The speaker showed little enthusiasm for the specifics of the Senate Finance bill and voiced concern that the plan does not include the public insurance option.

Pelosi said, however, she's still optimistic that the House and Senate can reach some kind of consensus and thinks they are already about 85 percent there.

"Our bill is stronger for seniors than the Senate bill," Pelosi said. "We hope we can persuade them to our point of view." And while Baucus's proposal includes state-run cooperatives to compete with private insurers, Pelosi reiterated that the House bill will include the government, or public, health care option.

The speaker would not say when the House will bring a bill to the floor, or even if the House will vote on a bill before the Senate does. She said she will wait to see the final product after the Senate Finance Committee amends Baucus' proposal next week.

Many House members would like the Senate to vote on health care reform first. They took a tough vote on an energy bill earlier this year that they see going nowhere fast in the Senate. Some don't want to stick their necks out on the health care bill, and vote for a public option, if it's not going to become law.

Meanwhile, the Senate Finance bill didn't win over House Republicans either.

"The partisan proposal introduced by Senator Baucus relies on the same big government costly approach that the American people have already rejected," said House Republican Leader John Boehner. "Yes, there are some words that are different, but it's still a path to a big government-run health care program."

There was some good news for Mr. Baucus today, though. After leading the bipartisan "Gang of Six" for months in an effort to produce a bipartisan health care bill, he released his own plan yesterday without any Republican support, and Senate Democrats voicing concerns too. But a bipartisan, moderate group of four senators put out a statement today commending Baucus for "his efforts to forge a health care reform proposal that has the potential to gain broad bipartisan support."

While they said they still have some concerns about the bill, the senators - Olympia Snowe, Ben Nelson, Claire McCaskill and Joe Lieberman - promised to "continue to work together in the full Senate on bipartisan health care reform that reduces costs, improves care, and expands access."

Jill Jackson is a CBS News Capitol Hill Producer.

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