Key Moderates Influence The Shape Of Health Overhaul Bills
The Washington Post: "Moderates have raised numerous concerns about aspects of the bill, including the public insurance option that liberals persuaded Reid to add last week. Although (Senate Majority Leader Harry) Reid included an 'opt out' provision for states that don't want to participate, many moderate Democrats prefer a "trigger" mechanism, proposed by their lone Republican ally, Sen. Olympia J. Snowe (Maine)." Resolving differences could take weeks some say (Murray and Montgomery, 11/4).
Roll Call: "On Tuesday, moderate Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) made clear she supports Snowe's proposal for a public insurance option that would only be triggered in the future if private insurers failed to adequately lower health premiums. Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), a leading centrist, confirmed that the moderates were continuing to meet with Snowe to strategize a way forward that brings the Republican on board and softens Reid's bill." Some Democrats believe using Snowe's idea could win the vote of the other Republican senator from the Maine, Susan Collins, and maybe up to two more Republican votes (Drucker and Pierce, 11/4).
Related KHN story: Public Option May Play Only Minor Role In Changing Health Care (11/2)
In a second story, Roll Call reports that Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., still holds power, and is unlikely to face sanctions from Democratic party leadership, despite some liberal calls to strip him of his committee gavels after he said he'd stand with Republicans on a filibuster of the overhaul if it contains a public option. Lieberman's vote is still being pursued and his work on other legislation has been an important asset to Democrats, Roll Call reports (Pierce, 11/4).
Politico reports that even if a health reform bill passes, some Democrats - even in so-called "safe" seats - are feeling the heat ahead of the 2010 elections. Rep. Jim Costa, D-Calif., "is one of a handful of moderate House Democrats from relatively stable districts who aren't yet on board with the health care bill and whose 'no' votes could force colleagues in more marginal districts to cast offsetting - and potentially perilous - 'yes' votes." Costa - who says all Democrats are vulnerable next year - won his district's election with three-quarters of the vote last year (Allen, 11/4).
The Associated Press reports that some Democratic groups are telling the centrists to get on board with reform or don't expect help in the re-election next year. "The groups are unleashing blunt and personal broadcast ads and e-mails at moderates even as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., tries to shape a health care bill that can attract the 60 votes it needs to pass" (Fram, 11/4).
MoveOn is pressuring centrists as well, The Atlantic reports: "(I)t's hitting Sens. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) and Mary Landrieu (D-LA) with radio ads in their home states, plus direct-mail pieces pressuring those two plus Sens. Ben Nelson (D-NE), Kent Conrad (D-ND), and Olympia Snowe (R-ME)" (Good, 11/3).