January 7th, 2010
08:28 PM ET
8 years ago

House Democrats object to Senate health provisions

Washington (CNN)- Rank and file House Democrats Wednesday objected to some key provisions in the Senate health care bill during a wide-ranging conference call led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other leaders. Over 100 Members participated in the call meant to update Democrats on health care negotiations.

Among the concerns, according to sources who participated in the call, were the special Medicaid deal Nebraska Democratic Senator Ben Nelson cut with Senate leaders and the Senate's excise tax on high end insurance plans to pay for reform.

Caucus Chairman John Larson, D-Connecticut, told reporters House Democrats will get a chance to discuss health care with President Obama directly next week, when he is scheduled to address their annual legislative retreat in Washington.

Several members on the call criticized the deal Sen. Nelson negotiated to cover his state's additional Medicaid costs that stem from expanding the program's coverage to more low income Americans.

Connecticut Democrat Rep Joe Courtney told CNN that Members told leaders "It's just unacceptable to treat states differently."

As House Democrats fumed about the deal, Senator Nelson announced Thursday that he is already talking to leaders about a way for the bill to cover additional Medicaid costs for all states.

"I've been in serious discussions with Senate leaders and others to secure changes in the bill to treat all states equally," Nelson said in written statement. "At the end of the day, whatever Nebraska gets will apply to all states."

Pelosi and other leaders agreed Nelson's provision would not be in the final bill, and stressed they would work to provide equity for all states on Medicaid funding, according to several sources on the call.

Courtney, who has been an outspoken critic of the Senate's excise tax on high cost insurance plans, said at least seven Members argued against accepting any version of it in a final bill. He told CNN some of these Members insisted they would vote against a bill that included it. But Courtney acknowledged that with the President and Senate Democrats pushing for the tax, some modified form could be acceptable. "I'm open to looking at any kind of ideas. There are a lot of moving pieces."

Because of the clash between the two chambers over how to pay for the bill, House and Senate Democrats are talking to the White House about alternatives, according to several aides.

Some Democrats on the call argued for a public option. But in recent days House leaders, who recognize there isn’t support in the Senate, have shifted their emphasis to keeping major insurance reforms in the bill and making health care more affordable.

Democratic leaders pledged on the call they would argue for a repeal of the anti-trust exemption for insurers, an issue that Rules Committee Chairwoman Louise Slaughter said she raised at a meeting on Wednesday with President Obama.

Members on the call also urged leaders to push the Senate and the White House to agree to setting up a national insurance exchange in the final bill, instead of the state-based exchanges in the Senate bill.

Pelosi repeated that a top priority is to boost subsidies to keep down out-of-pocket costs for low and middle class Americans.

After a barrage of criticism from Republicans and some Democrats this week about closed door negotiations on a final bill, Speaker Pelosi defended the process on the call.

"The Speaker stated, as she's stated before, that this has been most transparent issue of any issue that Congress has taken up," according to one Democratic aide who participated in the call.

Members also raised concerns about how to negotiate differences over abortion and immigration language, but leaders did not offer any decisions on how these items would be resolved.

Leaders scheduled another meeting with all House Democrats for next Tuesday evening, when the House reconvenes

soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. phoenix86

    The Senate package is not socialist enough for Pelosi and Co.

    January 7, 2010 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  2. Bill

    They just want their bribe and Pelosi will accomodate.

    January 7, 2010 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  3. howie

    Finally, some democrats sound as if they have a little sense.

    January 7, 2010 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  4. Denna

    Americans are hurting and these bozos are fooling around. Nelson should be ashamed of himself. He, as a Democrat, had a chance to be part of solution. Instead, he chose to be part of the problem. Americans need health care, meaningful health care reform. Now! I hate that we finally got a president who cares and now some in his own party are acting like a bunch of jerks!!!

    January 7, 2010 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  5. John Boehner is like Cleopatra, only he bathes in Cheetos

    Don't screw this up democrats!

    January 7, 2010 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  6. Henry Miller, Libertarian, Cary, NC

    Wow! There is honour among thieves!

    And just think: If even Democratic politicians object to bribing other Democratic politicians, how are American citizens going to react?

    January 7, 2010 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  7. Mike

    It's nice to see that some Congressmen are concerned about the deals made in the Senate. The "so-called" greatest deliberative body in the world dropped the ball on this one. I know both my Senators could care less about it since I wrote one and the other is an installed puppet. If all the crap was cut from the bill, it might even get the support of Americans.

    January 7, 2010 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  8. Jenn, Philadelphia

    Nancy Pelosi still clinging to the "most transparent" statement? I hope she's one of the many House members up for reelection who gets shown the door. The contempt this Congress has shown the American people by trying to pass a bill the majority don't want and doing it in secret is offensive. If they win reelection, impeachment proceedings should begin for them all, starting with the Liar in Chief, Obama.

    January 7, 2010 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  9. Four and The Door

    Apparently, the congress is even going to take this reconciliation of House and Senate bills as another opportunity to increase the cost to the country. This is completely absurd. Apparently they get in a room with each other and forget all about the real world.

    Here's a hint of what that's like outside of Washington DC. The economy is still tanking and unemployment is at 10%. National Security is going to get more expensive whether we like it or not. Stop spending billions we don't have on a program we don't want.

    January 7, 2010 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  10. A deal is a deal.....

    Suck it up Dems....Harry Reid made the deal and so you must live with it......you will also not get a public option and you will lose on funds for abortion.....tell me, exactly what is it that you got?......I own stock in the health insurance companies and they are all going up.....guess we won....

    January 7, 2010 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  11. southern cousin

    The story here is they are mad because Nelson was able to steal more money from the American taxpayer than they were. This whole scam is nothing but a big Obama lie. Liberals gone in 2010. Keep demeaning the TEA party libs. Keep telling us what fools we are. Please. You infuriate more taxpayers everytime you open your mouths.

    January 7, 2010 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  12. ForThePeople

    On behalf of the other 49 states, I'd like to extend a hearty "your welcome" to all Nebraskans on helping to pay for your health care reform.
    Gotta love these Democrat "behind closed door" meetings! Thanks to them, health care reform in not so much a national issue but an "every state for itself" issue: which states can get the best deal thanks to their Democrat Senators or Representatives.
    Does our paying for Nebraska's special health care deal get the rest of us at least one free ticket to a Cornhusker football game next season?

    January 7, 2010 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  13. Mr Right

    This is a scam, it is a power grab and the politicians are selling their votes in backdoor dealings, and the proof is in the lack of transparency and obvious sellouts like in this story, AMERICA WAKE UP you and your children are being sold out.

    January 7, 2010 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  14. Marion/Birmingham,Al

    It is called Bribery,for votes. Using Tax Payers money to Bribe Senators for their votes,being unfair to most states so some states get advantages of not paying for their medicaid increases.

    January 7, 2010 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  15. An Honest Reformer

    Americans have been sold out by the "time for changers" – Democrats. No public option, outlandish "pork" provided to those senators who held out, and failure to prosecute the thousands and thousands of doctors, pharmacies, and individuals defrauding the health care system are total failures


    January 7, 2010 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  16. cph9680

    Vote against the bill if you don't like it...You'll be doing us all a favor!

    January 7, 2010 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  17. Runofthemill

    Nelson knows he isn't getting that deal. It would make the law open to a Constitutional challenge - excises must be equal among states....

    What he needed was cover to vote to close debate. He will have the luxury of voting no on the final bill because they only need 51 in the final up/down vote and the bill in any permutation it has gone through would easily get 55-58.

    January 7, 2010 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  18. Dean in PA

    It's so easy for people who have ironclad foolproof healthcare to dispute healthcare for people who have none... shame on our lawmakers, whether repugnican or democrat

    January 7, 2010 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  19. TOTUS

    Here is the REAL headline: "AMERICANS Overwhelmingly Object to Democrats Health Care Bill"

    January 7, 2010 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  20. disaster

    "The Speaker stated, as she's stated before, that this has been most transparent issue of any issue that Congress has taken up," according to one Democratic aide who participated in the call.

    To quote Princess Bride: She keeps using that word. I do not think it means what she thinks it means...

    January 7, 2010 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  21. Jayro

    What !! Democrats resisting Obamanation Care. Maybe them old House members read the fine DEATH PANEL PRINT. I guess fining 18 to 25 year olds 1000.00 a year for not having insurance is starting to sound nuts. Were doomed if this bill goes through.

    January 7, 2010 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  22. proud mother and sister of soldiers

    Where is the transperancy and bipartisanship Obama promised? He had closed door negotiations with Pelosi and Reid and now invites House Democrats to the WH to discuss health care. The man singularly continues to divide this country.

    January 7, 2010 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  23. Nelson Was Fooled

    Reid and the rest of the Democrats played Nelson for a fool. They knew that one state cannot be exempted from a federal mandate, and tricked Nelson for his vote. Nelson sold his vote, for a bag of magic beans. This Obama Care bill is a pathetic flop.

    January 7, 2010 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  24. Who are they kidding

    " that this has been most transparent issue of any issue that Congress has taken up,"

    Pelosi can not be serious when seh said this. If she is, she is nuts.

    What does she call behind closed doors meetings? And now they want to have MORE closed door meetings.

    This has been one of the most back door bills every to go through Washington. Obama PROMISED all discussions would be on C-span,,, what happened??????

    January 7, 2010 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  25. guest55

    this conflict and any issue should be addressed and solved as quickly as possible before it doesn't make it through because of minor disagreements further turn it into a bigger Republican target. There are too many people who need this legislation's help.

    January 8, 2010 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
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