(Host) Congressman Peter Welch says he supports a new health care reform bill that was unveiled by House Democratic leaders this week.
The full House is expected to begin debate over the legislation next week. Welch isn’t sure the bill will garner enough Democratic support to win approval.
VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.
(Kinzel) When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stood on the steps of the U.S. Capitol building this week to unveil the new bill, Welch was among the dozens of Democratic members to stand with the Speaker.
Speaking on VPR’s Vermont Edition, Welch said he’s backing the bill because it expands access to coverage for millions of Americans and because it contains a number of very important reform provisions.
Welch doubts that any Republicans will vote for the legislation and he’s not certain that Democratic leaders have enough support in their own caucus to pass it:
(Welch) "I don’t know, I really don’t. You know I am going to vote for this bill – I think with the extension of coverage, the insurance reforms, the prescription drug price negotiation, and the public option… these are all very solid steps so that we can begin this journey of reforming the health care system. But I do not know whether the votes are there. I think they will be. I think they will be in the end."
(Kinzel) And Welch says maintaining the current system really isn’t an option:
(Welch) "The fundamental question facing Congress is whether it wants to stick with the status quo or it wants to take that first step for change. This is not a perfect bill and I’m advertising it as such, but it is a necessary step."
A final vote on the legislation is expected by the middle of next month.
For VPR News, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.