Pelosi: Insurance Antitrust Bill Next Week, Dems Continue Health Reform Planning
News outlets covered the mixed signals on Capitol Hill on the prospects for Democratic health legislation.
The Associated Press: "Leading lawmakers hoping to revive President Barack Obama's stalled health care overhaul have started writing a compromise bill, but it's unclear when the legislation will be ready for votes, a top House Democrat said Tuesday. The measure would change the massive Senate-approved health bill to what bargainers from the White House, Senate and House agreed to last month, Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., said in a brief interview. ... The measure Rangel discussed would be a so-called reconciliation bill, a seldom-used procedure that only requires a simple majority of votes for Senate passage (Fram, 2/2).
Modern Healthcare: "House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said she would move a bill to the floor next week that effectively strips health insurance companies of their antitrust exemption. ... Pelosi made the announcement on a conference call with progressive bloggers on Tuesday" (DoBias, 2/2).
Reuters: "The House-passed healthcare reform bill included a repeal of the antitrust exemption. The Senate bill did not. Pelosi spokesman Nadeam Elshami said moving ahead with a vote on the antitrust measure does not mean Democrats have decided to break up the broad healthcare reform measure and try to move it piecemeal through Congress" (Whitesides, 2/2).
Wall Street Journal: "[Democrats] say repealing the federal antitrust exemption would drive insurance prices down in regions where one health insurer dominates. Insurers say they already face tight regulation by the states, and the practical impact of the move is uncertain" (Adamy and Yoest, 2/2).
Roll Call reports that Democratic leaders "don't know" when they will take up health care again: 'I anticipate making a decision just as soon as the way forward is clear,' House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Tuesday. ... Last week, Hoyer said Democrats would like to decide on a path forward sometime this week, which he was uncomfortably reminded of at his weekly press conference. 'Did I say that?' he said. 'I was in error'" (Dennis, 2/2).
CQ HealthBeat: "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., met with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Tuesday evening to discuss the stalled efforts. ... 'We hope to be in a position in the near future - don't put me down as to days or number of weeks - to move forward on health care,' Reid said. 'We plan to do it this year and to do it as quickly as we can'" (Armstrong and Wayne, 2/2).