Democrats Closing In On Health Bill Agreement
Reuters: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi "said on Wednesday congressional Democrats were close to agreement on merging their healthcare bills but still faced challenges in blending the two approaches. For the second consecutive day, Pelosi and other House Democratic leaders met with President Barack Obama at the White House to discuss ways to reconcile the House's health care overhaul with a version passed by the Senate." Reuters reports that negotiators must still agree on issues such as abortion funding, new taxes to pay for reform, a government-run public option and subsidy levels. "House leaders have a list of about two-dozen issues to be resolved, a House aide said" (Whitesides and Smith, 1/6).
Roll Call notes the meeting included "Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.), Education and Labor Chairman George Miller (D-Calif.) and Rules Chairwoman Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.). ... Pelosi declared that the final product must meet the 'Triple A Test,' saying she must be satisfied that it is 'affordable, holds the insurance companies accountable, and gives access to all American to quality health care at lower costs'" (Koffler, 1/6).
The Hill: "When asked what the president's message was, Waxman... said: 'Get it done.' Pelosi said the House has selected a few issues it wants to shepherd through the process, including affordability, accountability for insurance companies and access to insurance" (Youngman, 1/6).
Bloomberg: "Pelosi is facing resistance as she tries to resolve differences in House and Senate bills that would mark the biggest changes to U.S. health policy in 45 years." Among the other issues that could prove challenging for House Democrats are the inclusion of a 'cadillac' tax and the need for more subsidies to aid in the purchase of health insurance. "With virtually no Republican support for the bill, Pelosi is depending on Democrats to stick together" (Litvan and Jensen, 1/7).
Politico reports that Pelosi said she was "confident" regarding "the prospects of the House and Senate coming together on a final version of the bill. Democrats in the House will caucus Thursday and "[t]he speaker was reluctant to divulge any sort of time line for the process - though it has been widely reported the White House would like to see a bill on the president's desk before the State of the Union" (Shiner, 1/6).
Meanwhile, Roll Call reports in a separate story that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid continues his work on the bill from his home in Nevada. Negotiations involving Reid are "likely to accelerate next week, when Reid is likely to return to Washington, D.C., and the House reconvenes from its holiday recess" (Drucker, 1/6).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.