The Boston Globe: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi "told reporters this morning that the House is working on two tracks to pursue health reform. She said she hopes to announce soon a series of smaller health care bills, such as removing the antitrust exemption for insurance companies, that could pass relatively quickly." Pelosi described the current thinking as being that both chambers "would pass a series of agreed-upon changes to the Senate bill under reconciliation, and then the House would pass the Senate bill itself." Following this plan "could reassure House members" who otherwise might not support the Senate bill "for fear that the Senate might later balk at the changes" (Wangness, 1/28).
The Hill: "House Democrats are readying a series of smaller'‘sidebar' healthcare provisions to introduce by mid-February even as they push for using reconciliation rules to move a broader healthcare package, according to leadership aides. ... Pelosi was light on specifics, but ... one of her top aides said Democrats hope to have a number of incremental healthcare reform bills on the floor ahead of the Presidents Day recess, which is scheduled to begin on Friday, Feb. 12." The Hill reports that Pelosi believes the differences between the House- and Senate-passed health bills "are far greater than even President Barack Obama has stated" and that merging the two comprehensive versions could be a long, painful process (Allen, 1/28).
CQ: "The legislation, which may consist of more than one bill, will include proposals that can win quick majority approval. But they would not be a substitute for the broad health care overhaul, which has stalled in prolonged negotiations between top House and Senate Democrats (Epstein, 1/28).
The New York Times Prescriptions Blog reports on how Pelosi described these differences: "'We're not talking about minor tweaks ... We're talking about the fact that our bills are about 75 percent the same, perhaps 80. ... But then there are some areas where we're not the same and that we have to find a way to move forward. But I would not call them minor tweaks. ... No. It's more serious than that.' She added: 'Right now, we want to see where the Senate will go on its legislation'" (Herszenhorn, 1/28).
Roll Call: "With tactics and timing still largely in the air and many of her rank and file itching to move on to the more politically pressing issue of tackling joblessness, Pelosi remained resolute about finishing what the party started last year. 'We'll go through the gate. If the gate is closed, we'll go over the fence. If the fence is too high, we'll pole vault in. If that doesn't work, we'll parachute in. But we're going to get health care reform passed for the American people,' she said" (Newmyer, 1/28).
Meanwhile, Politico reports "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) would provide only a nebulous timeline for passing health care reform Thursday, committing to do it 'this year' ... Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) also didn't show any sense of urgency" (Budoff-Brown, 1/28).