Senators Ignore Rhetoric, Consider Scaling Back Their PlanThe Washington Post reports that key Senate Finance Committee negotiators spoke on a conference call Thursday, continued their efforts toward crafting a bi-partisan bill, didn't rule out the option of scaling back their legislation and rejected Democratic leadership's effort to impose a deadline on their talks. "Before leaving for the month-long recess, Baucus had pegged the cost of the negotiators' ideas at less than $900 billion over the next decade. Thursday's discussions focused on driving that cost lower, the sources said. The senators also shared tales from their home states, where some lawmakers have been besieged by protesters angry about a potential government takeover of the nation's health-care system." The group has agreed to meet again Sept. 4 (Montgomery and Kornblut, 8/21).
Roll Call: "There was no breakthrough in the negotiations, which began in June. But Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said in a statement that negotiators remain committed to reaching a bipartisan agreement on health care reform and that additional meetings are planned before the Senate returns to Washington, D.C., after Labor Day" (Drucker, 8/21).
The New York Times: "... one lawmaker who participated Thursday night in a conference call among six Republican and Democratic senators trying to reach bipartisan agreement on a health care plan said the senators agreed to keep working together and asked staff members to focus on making health coverage more affordable while holding down medical costs. 'We are hanging in there,' said Senator Kent Conrad, Democrat of North Dakota, after the telephone conference of almost one hour and 40 minutes. 'Is it easy? No. But I tell you, I have never seen a group with a greater sense of purpose than this group'" (Zeleny and Hulse, 8/20).
CongressDaily: An aide said "the White House and Majority Leader Reid are holding firm to a Sept. 15 deadline for the Finance Committee to produce bipartisan legislation" (Hunt, 8/20). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.