Wednesday, January 6, 2010

House Democrats to Pursue Obamacare Changes

This is pretty much theater for the masses since the Dems want a bill for Obama to sign before the State of the Union and that means any bill will do for now. Later on the Dems will go on once Obamacare comes alive and change whatever they want with the numbers they have in Congress. That fact is at this point with the Dems doing all the dealings behind closed doors with the White House, something is going to be signed.

House Democratic leaders said Tuesday that they would insist on changes to the Senate health care legislation to make coverage more affordable for middle-class Americans and to tighten control over the insurance industry.

But it remains unclear how much leverage the House will have in negotiations given that Senate Democrats cannot spare a single vote without jeopardizing the bill’s chances. The White House will also have a big role in the final product.

The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, met Tuesday with her top lieutenants and the three committee chairmen directly responsible for the health care bill, as they prepared for negotiations to begin in earnest this week.

Ms. Pelosi and the majority leader, Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, also met at the White House with President Obama. The top Senate Democrats, Harry Reid of Nevada and Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, joined the meeting by telephone.

Aides said that the White House would convene meetings of House and Senate staff perhaps as early as Wednesday to begin clearing away some of the easier differences between the bills, with Congressional leaders to meet face-to-face next week.

After the meeting at the Capitol, House Democrats said they would push the Senate to provide more generous subsidies to help moderate-income Americans buy insurance, but expressed willingness to drop the idea of a government-run health plan.

The House bill includes a government-run health insurance plan, or public option, to compete with private insurers. The public option was dropped from the Senate bill after centrist Democrats said they would oppose any measure that included it.

House Democrats said they could live without the public option provided that they had sufficient guarantees that other steps would be taken to increase options for consumers and to tighten the clamp on any abuses by private insurance companies.

Representative Chris Van Hollen, Democrat of Maryland and a member of the House leadership, said some of his colleagues would press to end the insurance industry’s exemption from federal antitrust laws, a step strongly opposed by Senator Ben Nelson, Democrat of Nebraska, who has said he would oppose the bill if the House made any changes that he did not like.

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