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Pelosi blasts health insurance companies

From NBC's Luke Russert

At her weekly press conference today, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi came out aggressively against health insurance companies and their opposition to a public insurance option. "I think it is pretty clear that we want a strong public option in the legislation. Insurance companies full force carpet-bombing and shock and awe against the public option -- so much so that the American people doubt the plan or are uncertain about it, until you tell them what is in it."

Later, off camera, while walking with reporters to her office, Pelosi took it a step further and questioned the morality of health insurance companies that oppose a public option. "It is somewhat immoral what they are doing. Of course, they have been immoral all along how they have treated the people that they insure."

In a passionate tone, she continued, "They are the villains in this. They have been part of the problem in a major way. They have been doing everything in their power to stop a public option from happening. The public has to know that. They can describe their arguments any way they want, but the fact is they don't want the competition. They don't even want anti-trust laws. They have had a good thing going for a long time at the expense of the American people and the health of our country. Our members have to go out there ready to take on a big special interest that has not made our country healthier and have made our cost spiral upward and for whom that is coming to an end."

Pelosi then said this about the health-care reform legislation: "This is the fight of our lives for the people that we represent, for their health."

Video: A new poll shows that the majority of voters are against a public health option run by the government, a surprising voice has come out against health care reform. NBC's Dr. Nancy Snyderman talks with Dr. David Scheiner who was President Obama's doctor for 22 years before he moved into the White House.

During her press conference, Pelosi was asked about her opinion on the current deal struck by four members of the Blue Dog coalition who sit on the Energy and Commerce Committee. Pelosi replied, "The language that is in the proposal by the Blue Dogs, is the exact same language that is in the health bill in the Senate -- Sen. Kennedy's bill. So I think there is plenty of common ground as we go forward on this." She continued, "Sen. Kennedy's bill … is one that I think would be okay. It's not my preference. My preference is a stronger bill. It meets the test of having an effective public option."

Lastly, when concluding her press conference, Pelosi invoked a folksy story about the history behind the phrase, "Thank you ma'am," to describe the current health-care reform debate.

"They said it probably came from the fact that when a young man was courting a young woman, and they were driving down the road. And they hit a bump in the road, and she'd fall towards him. He'd say, 'Thank you ma'am.' So a bump in the road became equated with 'Thank you ma'am.' So we have a few 'Thank you ma'ams' going on around here when we are dealing with a bill of this size. This is all part of the legislative process. Our Democrats will be together to vote on comprehensive health care for all Americans."