SAN FRANCISCO -- A health overhaul bill that doesn't include a new public insurance plan won't pass the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said at a Thursday press conference.
'There's no way I can pass a bill in the House of Representatives without a public option,' she said after a round-table meeting with community members and faith-based leaders in a San Francisco church.
Pelosi has said repeatedly that health care legislation in the House would have a public plan but her comments Thursday left no room for doubt.
The White House is facing a liberal backlash for indicating openness to leaving a public plan out of the final bill. Liberals insist a new public insurance plan is essential, but Republicans almost uniformly oppose it.
President Barack Obama also sought to reassure listeners in an interview Thursday with a Philadelphia-based radio talk show host that he sees nothing wrong with having a public option as one of the coverage choices available. But he added that no one would be obligated to go into a public plan.
As Democratic House members fan out across the country to hear from constituents on the issue, some have faced raucous opposition.
In San Francisco, Pelosi found a uniformly supportive audience who frequently interrupted her with applause as she hammered home her message: The bill must meet the fourfold goal of reducing costs, improving quality, expanding coverage and retaining choice.
'What would you want to give up? Would you have fewer people covered? Less quality care?' she asked the crowd. 'The priorities have to be addressed if you're going to have real change.'