KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Congress Returns To Work, Senators To Meet With Obama

A group of Senate Democrats will meet with President Obama today to discuss overhauling health care, The New York Times reports.

"The Democrats on two Senate committees that are drafting health legislation have been invited to the White House to meet with Mr. Obama, hours before he leaves for the Middle East and Europe. As part of a push to secure Congressional passage of a bill this year, the administration will also make the case on Tuesday that reforming health care is critical to fixing the economy (Stolberg and Pear, 6/1).

Two men sure to be part of the discussion, Sens. Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., are busy readying their proposals, Roll Call reports. "Baucus and Kennedy are pledging to smoothly negotiate their bills into one so that legislation can be considered on the Senate floor before the August recess. But with the most contentious details of health care reform only beginning to emerge in the Finance and HELP committees, both the process for melding the Baucus and Kennedy bills and prospects for doing so absent complications remain uncertain."

Further, there remains the possibility of disharmony among the men: "Baucus and Kennedy have worked well together on tough issues in the past. But Montana's senior Senator has over the years shown a greater inclination than his Massachusetts counterpart toward bipartisanship. And negotiating complicated matters requires significant staff input, and Kennedy's aides on HELP are considered much further to the left than Baucus' Finance aides. One lobbyist with health care interests predicted that Kennedy's bill would be more attractive to the Senate's liberals than Baucus' legislation. A second downtown observer with knowledge of the work both Finance and HELP have done on health care elaborated, explaining that Kennedy's panel appears to be writing legislation that is "much more expansive and costly" than the bill under development by Baucus" (Drucker, 6/2).

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