Pelosi, House Dems Finding Compromise On Health Bills Difficult

The Hill: "Speaker Pelosi is backing away from a deal she cut with centrists to advance health reform, said a source familiar with talks. Pelosi's decision to move away from the agreement that was made with a group of Blue Dogs to get the bill out of committee would steer the healthcare legislation back to the left as she prepares for a floor vote. Pelosi is planning to include a government-run public option in the House version of the healthcare bill. She wants to model it on Medicare, with providers getting reimbursed on a scale pegged to Medicare rates" (Soraghan, 9/22).

Roll Call reports that "Pelosi's gambit runs the risk of inflaming Democratic moderates, who have tried to nudge the package to the political center in anticipation of a final bill that hews closely to what the Senate Finance Committee produces. They are anxious to avoid taking career-threatening votes on a House package only to see it rewritten in conference negotiations with the Senate" (Newmyer, 9/23). 

Congress Daily: Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, "said the final bill will likely leave the question of a public insurance option to the states. 'In the end I think, in conference ... I think we might end up with a state-by-state option, where the states can choose if they want to sponsor a public competitor,' Baldwin said." She added that liberal Democrats would likely vote for the bill anyway. Blue Dog Rep. Jason Altmire, D-Pa., "said a trigger option was more likely, where a public option would kick in if a certain percentage of the population was not covered" (Hunt, 9/23).

"Top Democrats and Republicans have said there is '80 percent' agreement on how to reform health care, with the major disputes centering on the remaining 20 percent, but that rhetoric appears to be more public relations than reality," Roll Call reports in a separate article. "Republicans said the 80 percent agreement referred to the set of goals that Democrats have on health care reform, rather than any formal legislation or specifics currently under consideration in either chamber. Democrats countered that Republicans are floating the 80 percent figure simply as a way to look like they are not being obstructionists" (Kucinich and Dennis, 9/23).

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer is reaching out to House Republicans leaders "who have said they agree with about 80 percent of the ideas House Democrats have outlined," CQ Politics reports. Hoyer said he would contact House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, R-Va., and Rep. Charles Boustany, R-La. "Cantor made the reference to 80 percent agreement between the parties at a health care policy forum Monday in Richmond, Va. And Boustany has made several references to the points of accord" (9/22).

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