Senate veers toward healthcare bill that pleases no one
A bipartisan group of six senators worked Tuesday to hammer out a deal. But both parties worry that they will find the final product unacceptable.
The last prospect for a bipartisan deal on healthcare reform hangs on closed-door negotiations among six senators, but colleagues on both sides of the aisle are already signaling doubts over whether it can win broad support.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Members of the group have talked about cutting Medicare costs and taxing the highest-end insurance plans – those of more than $250,000, perhaps. More controversially, the group might also be considering jettisoning a public option – one of President Obama’s primary wishes – because it is a nonstarter for Republicans, in favor of health insurance cooperatives.
“We don’t know what’s going on in these delicate negotiations,” says Sen. Richard Durbin (D) of Illinois, the majority whip. “There’s high anxiety. We can’t say sight unseen if this will be something Democratic leaders can support.”
Republicans ready to start over
Republican leaders are already talking in terms of scrapping proposals to date.
“We need to clear the decks here and solve specific problems with specific solutions that do not impose a government takeover and hurt … what most Americans can enjoy today,” he adds.
Trying to get it done
The team of Sens. Max Baucus (D) of Montana and Charles Grassley (R) of Iowa – the chairman and senior Republican on the finance panel, respectively – also hatched the compromise that moved the first Bush tax cuts through the Senate in 2001.
But the overhaul of America’s healthcare system is a vastly more complex undertaking.
“This is not one bill. It’s many, many, many, many, many bills,” Senator Baucus told reporters after a Democratic caucus luncheon Tuesday. Senators involved in the negotiations include Sens. Grassley, Olympia Snowe (R) of Maine, Michael Enzi (R) of Wyoming, Jeff Bingaman (D) of New Mexico, and Kent Conrad (D) OF North Dakota.