June 4th, 2009
08:00 PM ET
13 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. David

    I trust that the Democrats understand that the republicans are ONLY participating in an effort to ensure that President Obama's Healthcare Plan fails.

    They need a failure on a large campaign promise to help them with their 2010 elections. Republicans are never really part of the 'solution'.

    I am sure Mr President is too smart for their very 'obvious' political games. We will have a comprehensive healthcare plan, and it will be this year.

    June 4, 2009 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  2. Independent

    Repukes say it's too complicated because they want to keep the highest cost and most wasteful health care system in the world, which is hurting US competitiveness, adding excessive costs to business and hurting American families who cannot afford health care. Repukes are protecting the vested interests who want to keep the status quo.

    June 4, 2009 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  3. Had It

    The plot thickens. Every day it's something new.

    Latest – Israel had a secret deal with GW Bush and now they are complaining that Obama won't honor it. It was not in writing, not discussed publicly, SECRET.

    Like our SECRET president was Cheney !! Is that how it's been for the entire 8 years and the republicans didn't know?

    June 4, 2009 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  4. Had It

    The secret deal was that Israel could build all the settlements they wanted and the US would NOT interfere. SECRET – not in writing – no one else knew.

    June 4, 2009 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  5. Had It

    Put the Congress on OUR health care system – they'll fix it.

    June 4, 2009 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  6. That One Guy

    I have seen government housing, I don't want government health care.

    June 4, 2009 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  7. skyhawkdriver

    All this is is another step toward socialized health care..big brother is going to continue to take over our lives until we all march in lockstep..or is it goose step??..it is amazing that so many of us are willing to give up even the privacy we have with our doctors..and if you don't think that will happen just wait..do you really want the federal government dictating your healthcare to you??..and having chris dodd involved..gee..I wonder if he can do to healthcare what he did to the banking industry??..

    June 4, 2009 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  8. Peter E

    'Government bureaucrats' deciding my health? As opposed to private insruance companies and healthcare providers' bureaucrats doing the same thing. AND they have the added incentive of making a profit out of denying me health services. There really isn't an advantage or disadvantage to either system. Maybe the only difference is that I get to vote government administrations out of office. I cannot do that to the health insurance monopoly in my state!

    June 4, 2009 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  9. ib

    I don't want the gov telling me which dr. to go to what tests I can have and when and if I can go to the hospital. The gov. has never ever run anything correctly the last thing I want is them messing in my health care.

    June 4, 2009 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  10. Unhappy Dem

    I guess they are going to tax the health care our employers provide for us to give healthcare to the welfare sector who won't try to provide for their selves.Typical, we carry the load so he can be the Great Provider and champion of the free loaders

    June 4, 2009 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  11. Henry Miller, Cary, NC

    "Writing a health care reform bill" is simple: start the phase-out of Medicare and Medicaid and keep government the hell out of health care.

    June 4, 2009 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  12. Really!?

    Why is Chris Dodd involved in screwing this up, too? He, as one person, is as much responsible for the mortgage meltdown as any CEO. The Dems should have broke his rank by now.

    June 4, 2009 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  13. Roger from CA

    Don't you freakin DARE stand in the way of real health care reform, you bottom-dwelling Republicans! It is one of the grossest moral shames on America that it leaves anyone within its borders in the position of either foregoing necessary medical care or facing financial ruin. Everyone who is sick must be given high-quality, timely and affordable health care. Period!

    The fetishistic obsession that the GOP has against governmental role in things is all well and good–EXCEPT in health care. All sorts of flat-out lies are peddled by the right about alleged failures in the socialized, single-payor systems enjoyed in so many other countries. And no one is even seriously proposing that here. But if you don't have a government-run option, there cannot be any real price competition among the private insurers.

    June 4, 2009 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  14. JAY JOHN

    I doubt if they have any sensible plan for health care. They will put any
    thing in a health care bill without any thought of the harm it will do to
    to the country and the american people.

    June 4, 2009 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  15. Randall in Torrance - Desert Storm Veteran - Welcome to the end of the era of dumb ass Republicans and Stoopid Retards like Cheney and Bush in power

    Republicans are afraid that implementing universal health care will lead America down the road to socilaism and ultimatley to communism. I've been hearing this crap for 40 years from my own family. Republicans know this is a quick nd easy thing to do because the U.S. Armed Forces have free health care, so this is nothing new and works quite well. We must vote more Democrats to federal office and/or push through a well thought out health care plan without Republican support. I have children who do not have health care becuase it is unaffordable for them. At a minimum, Republican leaders opposed to universal health care should have their own health care taken away from them and their families for ten years just to experience that for a while. Every industrialized liberal democracy EXCEPT the U.S. has universal health care for their citizens. So why don't we? Because Republicans are anti-humankind. They are pricks. They are arrogant. They are selfish. They only care about wealthy Americans. Republicans are idiots. God bless America, our wonderful Democratic President and VP and their families. God bless this new American Revolution. The Democrats won the election and we are going to change America for the better. All the Republicans can do is sit there and watch the Revolution unfold. Or, they can deny themselves, pick up their crosses and follow us. Follow us to the promised land that they have kept hidden from the middle-class for far too long. Glory to God. Glory to America. Glory to the Democrats, and glory to the Revolution.

    June 4, 2009 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  16. Terry of Texas

    Of course, Conservatism, as usual, says that the problem cannot be solved, just like all other national problems. There is never a Conservative solution to anything.

    June 4, 2009 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  17. Gary

    1. Don't socialize medicine.
    2. Don't promise "free" healthcare to anyone.
    3. Don't borrow any more money (our national debt is too high).
    4. Don't raise taxes.
    5. Start with legal/malpractice reform.
    6. Encourage but don't force employers to provide insurance.

    June 4, 2009 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  18. JediMasterMatt - Bethlehem, PA

    The party of 'NO' is at it again, just think what would happen during the next election cycle or presidential election if democrats and President Obama pass universal healthcare....

    ...Now do you understand why republicans are always saying no?

    June 4, 2009 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  19. Harry

    Why is it that the government is not reeling in money right now? I've seen how we've got this insane IRS tax code. I've seen how the Veteran's Administration will not only deny you benefits you are entitled to, but will all-out insult you and try to humiliate you and put you down in a very rude manner when you go try to receive benefits you have earned and badly need. We've all seen how they cut costs through haphhazard sloppiness and I'm sure you've heard of the hundreds of people that got the AIDS virus from going there and the workers were not even sanitizing, or even cleaning off the colonoscopy probes and instruments. So...if the government is already doing all of this shady and gray area and questionable policies, than why isn't they don't have tons of money acquired through the illegitimate practices. I would call the U.S. tax code criminal. It's hard to call it anything else. It would really be, in a perfect world anyway, illegal. People put up with it, but why I'll never understand.

    June 4, 2009 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  20. Diane Dagenais Turbide

    Here, I have a private insurance and people with lower income have access to government-sponsored insurance option.

    June 4, 2009 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  21. Nick

    It's time to get rid of Sen. Dodd and install a senator who is competent and dedicated to the Constitution. Support Peter Schiff for U.S. Senate in 2010.

    June 4, 2009 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  22. Independent

    of course its difficult, I mean just look at social security, medi caid, the post office well anything the gov is in charge of.... I mean these are the same people who pay 500 bucks for a hammer!

    June 4, 2009 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  23. Tom

    Did you ever notice that every time there is a Bush in office, the country enters a deep Recession?

    June 4, 2009 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  24. Citizen

    These people (Senators and Congressmen) must understand that this health program will benefit the middle class most, who have been the backbone of America's economic strength. The poor have been supported by Medical and Medicaid and the rich have so much $$ they do not know what to do with. The Stimulus money going to the giant corporations really need to go to the middle class, as if the middle class is not supported so it can recover to pre-Bush era prosperity, the GNP will fall, eventually United States losing it title and the World Power, if it has not already.

    June 4, 2009 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  25. WIlly Brown

    I’ve lived in countries that have a national health care system and those who live there come to America to get treated. We can’t afford the debt Obama has sold us now. Raising taxes to pay fore this will result in more jobs gone away because of the taxes that will be levied on us all.. Back away from the Kool-Aid.

    June 4, 2009 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
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