Pelosi, D-Calif., told NBC's "Meet the Press" the mandate requirement is a penalty for so-called free riders and contended the plan known as "Obamacare" actually includes tax breaks for most Americans.
"It's not a tax, it's a penalty for free riders," Pelosi said. "But since you're bringing up the subject, it's important to note the middle-income families will get about $4,000 in tax breaks and tax credits in order to buy their health insurance. Middle-income families make out very well in this."
Pelosi said Democrats in Congress are ready and able to debate the merits of the law when it comes to the American public should Republican leaders on the Hill make good on their vow to overturn the controversial program.
"When they bring it up, they will ask to repeal all the things I said that help children, help young adults, help seniors," Pelosi said, adding, "So if that's what they want to repeal, we're happy to have that debate."
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican, countered the predicted benefits of the Obama plan are shaky at best and that he and his fellow governors objected to having more healthcare cost and responsibilities foisted on the states. "We can't afford the programs that we have today," he said. "He wants to create a new program."