June 4th, 2009
08:00 PM ET
14 years ago

Senate health care talks get difficult

(CNN) - The bipartisan leaders of the two Senate Committees in charge of writing a health care reform bill met Thursday afternoon to begin tackling what they said are the more difficult and complicated issues.

After the meeting the four leaders – Sen. Max Baucus, D-Montana, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Connecticut, in place of the ailing Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Massachusetts, and Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyoming – reported they are holding constructive talks but acknowledged steep differences remain between the Democrats and Republicans on the panels, particularly on the issue of a government-sponsored insurance option.

Despite the differences, both Baucus and Dodd expressed optimism a bill could be passed by the fall.

Republicans were less positive.

“We’re finding this to be a very formidable task and that there are a lot of things that have to be resolved,” Enzi said.

“It’s going to be very difficult to put this together in a way that will get a huge majority, a bipartisan majority,” said Sen. Orin Hatch, R-Utah, who sits on the Finance Committee. “But I think it’s doable.”

Baucus said he expects a public option will be part of a final bill – especially now that President Obama formally endorsed the idea in his letter to the leaders yesterday. But he said there are many versions of a public option under consideration, and he doesn’t know which one will be included.

Grassley said Republicans were not happy with Obama’s call for a public plan, suggesting it will make it much harder to find bipartisan support for a final bill.

“It wasn’t helpful. Words make a difference and it made a difference,” Grassley said.
Interestingly, Dodd acknowledged the HELP Committee’s progress on the bill has been slowed because Kennedy is sick.

“We’re a little bit behind the Finance Committee because obviously Sen. Kennedy hasn’t been with us. Our chairman. Our leader. We have a little catching up to do,” Dodd said in a moment of candor about the impact of Kennedy’s illness.

Filed under: Senate
soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. Harriette Seiler

    Sen. Baucus will be the face of failed health care reform. His own Montana constituents are pressing for single payer. New research shows that over 60 percent of personal bankruptcies are caused by medical debt–and most of the victims had insurance when they fell ill. Even with the global downturn, this is not happening in other countries. The insurers will never allow a meaningful public option. The mandate model is not working in Massachusetts. It's time to reread HR676, the Conyers bill. Let the CBO score the savings we would have under single payer!

    June 4, 2009 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  2. Govt Health Plan essential for real reform

    I do not understand why the Senators are so stuck on whether or not to have a alternative government health plan that Americans can choose over their current insurance company.

    Every single member of Congress currently get FREE healthcare coverage from a GOVERNMENT-BASED plan. It provides outstanding coverage and benefits to them.

    Why is their GOVERNMENT plan great for them but should not be available to the rest of us???

    The greed-based insurance companies need real competition from a good government healthcare plan that Americans can choose over them. Maybe they will then treat us like human beings and actually do what is right when it comes to treatment and claims.

    We HAVE to have an alternative government healthcare plan so Americans have a choice in what is best in coverage and cost for them.

    Come on Senators – you have a government healthcare plan – what is so wrong with Americans having access to one??????

    June 4, 2009 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  3. Ron Peoria, Il

    We can and do oftentimes spend millions of dollars on legal fees and procedures, rounding up judges and juries to take a criminal to trial.

    It would seem logical to me that spending that same amount of money on a sick child or working adult would be a better investment.

    We keep hearing about cuts in education and child welfare. Saving criminals will not insure the future of America. Save the children and rid ourselves of the expensive human waste we keep behind bars.

    Our priorities are ass backwards. Wake up America!!!!!!!

    June 4, 2009 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  4. Good/Bad

    The public plan should be held seperate for now. The biggest thing and it is also the one thing that was touched on for even thinking of implementing the public coverage plan is to get the costs under control. You really shouldn't even be discussing any sort of public coverage plan till you get costs under control. Once that happens now your looking at a completely different ball game as far as potential coverage numbers, and also the amount of money that individuals, employers, and the government have to pay (ie everyone pays less). Then you see how coverage has changed since lower premiums lower cost means more people can afford to cover themselves. After all that then you should look at what would be reasonable to cover the remaining gap.

    Cost needs to be brought down, and at the same time something needs to be done in terms of being denied coverage out right. Personally I have gone through that and for a time before I was covered through my employer had attempted to find individual insurance. I got one of two responses it was either A) denied or B) 1000-1500 a month for coverage. The reason I was under their weight criteria and instantly deemed as having a pre-existing condition making me extremely high risk.

    June 5, 2009 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
  5. Hopeful Optimist

    Just getter done !!!

    June 5, 2009 12:34 am at 12:34 am |
  6. The Truth, always in moderation

    First I know you guys will not post this.

    I find it quite disheartening that Conservative News Network (CNN) will selectively not mention Rush Limbaugh's comment on Sean Hannity Show equating and comparing the President to Al-Queda but jump at the statements by critics of Obama. Rush totally crossed the line and if CNN is TRULY independent, which I doubt, then they should step up to the plate and call this statement what it is.

    June 5, 2009 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
  7. Good

    I really hope a public option becomes available. Medicare and Medicaid were good first steps, but we need more drastic steps.

    According to the KCMU and Urban institute analysis of the March 2005 current population survey, 4/5 of the people who are uninsured are from working familes. The argument that anyone who works can afford healthcare just won't cut it anymore.

    June 5, 2009 12:56 am at 12:56 am |
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