WASHINGTON (CNN) - A controversial new tax on employer-provided medical benefits is gaining traction among Senate health care negotiators as a way to help pay for a $1 trillion reform package moving through Congress, two key senators said Wednesday.
Bipartisan Senate negotiators are "starting to coalesce" around the idea, according to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Montana.
Any tax is controversial - but this proposal is especially politically charged, since President Barack Obama opposed the idea when he ran for president. White House officials from the president on down have sent mixed messages in public in recent weeks about whether he'd accept such a tax.
Baucus says the president has told him he is "flexible" on the proposal.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Top Obama administration officials met privately in the Capitol with Democratic senators involved in health care reform Tuesday to assess where the complicated legislation stands and what the next steps need to be to pass it.
"We had to have it," said Finance Committe Chairman Max Baucus, D-Montana, about the meeting, which lasted an hour and a half. "To compare notes with the White House so the president's chief of staff hears our concerns and hears them directly."
Baucus declined to specify the "concerns" presented at the meeting, although the legislation has been slowed by Democratic differences over policy and financing.