House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) said Sunday the reason Democrats are not making a bigger push for a single-payer health care system is that "it isn't helpful to tinkle all over the Affordable Care Act right now."
Pelosi made the comment during a speaking event with MSNBC's Joy Reid in Manhattan.
Reid asked Pelosi why congressional Democrats are not pushing for a single-payer bill in response to Senate Republicans' health care legislation to replace Obamacare.
"I've been carrying signs for single payer long before I was in Congress, and long before many of the people advocating for single payer were born," Pelosi said.
"This is an idea that if we had a tabula rasa, if we were just starting clean, would be the most cost effective way to go forward. We don't have that," she added. "Overwhelmingly over 120 or 150 million people in our country have employer-based access to their health coverage and insurance."
Pelosi said she is still pushing for a single-payer system but that if it is enacted, it needs to be through the Affordable Care Act.
"The path to public option, single payer, is in the Affordable Care Act. It is not in distracting us from the focus of stopping what they are doing to let people die," Pelosi said.
"Single payer, for example, in California passed one house there, the Senate. And it would cost $400 billion, and more than half that money would come, if they could even get that money, from the Affordable Care Act," Pelosi said.
"Many of the features of single payer are contained in the Affordable Care Act," she added.
But Pelosi made clear to the audience that is not what people should be thinking about this week.
"So right now, I'm going to be crude, now we're in my living room, so I can be crude. It isn't helpful to tinkle all over the ACA right now," Pelosi said. "Right now we need to support the Affordable Care Act and defeat what the Republicans are doing."