January 13th, 2010
08:09 PM ET
12 years ago

Democrats hold intense day-long negotiations on health care bills


[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/01/13/art.bocu0113.gi.jpg caption=" President Barack Obama has made clear he favors the Senate Democrats' approach - taxing high cost insurance plans - to help pay for health care reform."]
Washington(CNN) - What was expected to be a morning meeting with the president on health care turned into all-day, intense negotiations with Democratic leaders trying to find compromise on differences over House and Senate health care bills.

The meetings did not finally wrap up until after 6:30 p.m. ET.

Senior congressional Democratic sources told CNN that the White House is pushing them hard to move quickly to resolve differences on a broad range of issues. The president and his top aides are being more aggressive than ever before in trying to broker a deal.

Though Democratic leaders and White House officials are tight-lipped about specifics, there is a deep House-Senate Democratic divide over how to pay for health care reform.

"Today we made significant progress in bridging the remaining gaps between the two health insurance reform bills," President Barack Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said in a joint statement Wednesday evening.

"We're encouraged and energized, and we're resolved to deliver reform legislation that provides more stability and security for those with insurance, extends coverage to those who don't have coverage, and lowers costs for families, businesses and governments."

Obama has made clear he favors the Senate Democrats approach - taxing high cost insurance plans. That has caused an eruption inside unions who oppose that approach.

Several sources said that labor union representatives were also at the White House Wednesday, their second round of meetings there this week.

Many House Democrats who worry the tax would hit too many middle class Americans also oppose that approach, and have been quite vocal about their frustration.

A House Democratic leadership aide conceded to CNN that the White House is pushing House Democrats to make a deal fast, saying "The speaker is also pushing for one, but won't just accept the Senate deal," he said, referring to Pelosi.

The meeting lasted from about 10:30 a.m. ET until about 6:40 p.m., according to White House spokesman Reid Cherlin. Obama attended most of the meeting, but was in and out because of the situation in Haiti following a 7.0-magnitude earthquake. Vice President Joe Biden and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius both attended portions of the meeting, Cherlin said.

Rep. Rob Andrews, D-New Jersey, was not in the meetings, but was briefed by leaders on the House floor when they came back briefly for votes Wednesday afternoon.

He told reporters that there was discussion about a range of issues, including ideas to change the Senate's proposed Cadillac tax on high end insurance plans - to make it more palatable to House Democrats and unions.

"What I believe you will see is a lessening of the tax's impact on a broad subset of people," Andrews said.

But Andrews said there is no agreement yet on how to do this, though several ideas on the table include raising the threshold, changing the index, or carving out some types of plans currently hit by the tax.

The Senate plan taxes insurance plans for families that cost $23,000 and higher. Democratic sources have said a leading idea is to raise that, in the hopes of affecting fewer workers that get high-cost plans through their employers.

Andrews said he believes the president's involvement is key to finalizing a deal.

"The president's always been willing to find the consensus point. It's pretty clear that that requires some change in the excise tax to get a majority in the House."

Andrews said Democratic negotiators were also discussing a way to expand the Senate's Medicare payroll tax to make up lost revenue from dropping the House surcharge on the wealthy. "It's more practical and easy to build on something the Senate has already done," he said.

The extended White House meeting forced Pelosi and other leaders to miss the kick off of their own annual legislative retreat. Google CEO Eric Schmidt was scheduled to address House Democrats Wednesday night at the Library of Congress.

Filed under: Congress • Democrats • Health care
soundoff (39 Responses)
  1. matt

    As usual the idiot Democrats are leaving the American in the dark. America, you made a big mistake voting self-serving Liberals. Why don't these Democrats take up on taking this health care that they are trying to shove in the throats of Americans - even the president when interviewed will not take it for himself and his family!

    January 13, 2010 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  2. RJ

    Catering to unions is infuriating, and this metality will eventually put the Democratic party back where it belongs, in the minority. Unions are more to blame for this country's problems than any other form of organization. Why should an uneducated worker be entitled to an insurance plan that exceeeds what professionals with graduate degrees receive as a benefit. Moreover, paying the kinds of salaries Detroit auto makers had to pay to common laborers is what brought that industry to its knees.

    January 13, 2010 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  3. Iowa Voter

    Maybe the should listen to the voters and start over with a better plan.

    January 13, 2010 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  4. Mark H.

    So much for bipartisanship, huh

    January 13, 2010 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  5. Obamacare is going down.....

    and Obama is ONE and DONE.

    The whole process is disintegrating right before their socialist eyes....a beautiful thing to watch.....

    January 13, 2010 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  6. Tired

    Please work on a meaningful bill that will provide the people with the medical care access they need.

    January 13, 2010 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  7. Bill

    Thank your president for keeping his promise of transparency. In my neighborhood we would call that lying. I can't wait until the next election and that's no lie.

    January 13, 2010 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  8. leftisloony

    the democrats themselves are "divided"......but no matter, lets get a deal involving one-seventh of the economy done FAST........cost? who knows?......how to pay for it? who cares?.........you can bet that the plan and numbers they come up with will be wrong and result in the "mother of all" unintended consequences.... to the detriment of us all.........the utter lunacy of these morons has yet to be finalized......
    i can't wait.................have a nice day

    January 13, 2010 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  9. Right Leaning Independent

    Push, Push, Push rather than intelligently debate a good plan . Just to be able to read from his teleprompter how his administration passed Health Care Reform at his State of the Union speech. For all you crazy Liberals, this guy is neither insightful or intelligent! He is another ignorant arrogant Liberal trying push his social hand out agenda!!

    January 13, 2010 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  10. Sure they did

    Most likely that sat around making deals with each other, spreading the taxes out to states and people that will never benefit from these programs, making prodominately GOP states carry the load for the Democrats.

    January 13, 2010 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  11. obama the liar

    follow the obama money.

    January 13, 2010 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  12. southern cousin

    Gee, these irresponsible fools are negotiating our money and our health, like they negotiate with North Korea and Iran. That sure makes me hopeful. Pelosi can't even figure out whether Rangel is corrupt after more than a year of investigation and Obama has broken every campaign promise he made except the stupid ones like closing Guantoamo. Idiots negotiating with incompetents, I for seome reason don't feed good about this.

    January 13, 2010 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  13. aware

    Obamacare is a loser for Americans, the dem majority in 2010 and Obama in 2012 if it squeaks through with all the back room bribery! 🙁

    January 13, 2010 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  14. German,Irish American

    Even the Democrats know it is a horrible when they have the majority, completely shut out the Republicans with no debate or even allow them to attend their behind closed doors deal makings and vote buying. What a crock this light-skinned Negro President and the totally corrupt Congress has turned out to be.

    January 13, 2010 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  15. unemployed by Obama

    probably hidding behind closed doors just like crooks in hidding. Sounds just like Democrates.

    January 13, 2010 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  16. Steve Lyons

    They did. How come it wasn't on C-Span? Does anyone have the current "details" of the plan(s) for the health care takeover?

    January 13, 2010 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  17. terry,va

    This is the biggest LIE ever put on the American people.

    January 13, 2010 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  18. Cindy Merrill

    Studies clearly indicate that poor diet hastens the onslaught of memory loss, and prehaps contributes to Alzheimers. Does either the House or Senate Healthcare bill expand Meals on Wheels to rural areas or increase SNAP food credit for seniors?
    Of course not.
    Common sense solutions are too simple for Congress to comprehend.

    January 13, 2010 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  19. Grrr-Awful-O

    SHHHHHH! That's supposed to be a secret, dummy!

    January 13, 2010 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  20. TexasJack

    Don't look for anything good to come out of this session. The Democrats are totally destroying health care as we know it. Only certain groups will benefit from this bill and it won't be people on medicare, health providers or prescription drug benefits. When they start telling you what they will pay for and what they won't you are going to be shocked into realism that you put a terriost into the White House.

    January 13, 2010 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  21. USN

    Still determind to stuff it down our AMERICAN throats. 63% against and climbing

    January 13, 2010 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  22. Baatman74

    This rush to pass this bill is why most people are upset! IF we need healthcare, it needs to be done slowly and carefully, else we create a debacle that will set off a revolution over rationed care... I wonder if ObamaScare is a plan for Obama to brag, then he to will jump ship along with the rats who are already starting to climb down the hawser to escape the stinking/sinking 'slop-pot' ObamaScare ship? Q: WHAT is this boy thinking!?!?!? Seems to me, this is a hit and run and totally visable to everyone. Who in the 'den of theves' thinks they DON'T live in 'glass houses?'

    January 13, 2010 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  23. TCM

    "negotiations?" you mean chicago-style politically corrupt intimidation of any senator who doesn't see it through socialist eyes.....transparency my ass!

    January 13, 2010 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  24. Great Northwest

    We need Health Care Reform thats all there is to it ,
    Stop padding the Insurance Companys pockets and get real on this issue,
    Throw the no sayers under the bus.
    Their excellent Health Care Insurance is covered by the U.S.Goverment yet they don't want the rest of the citizens to have Insurance with the same Goverment theirs comes from.
    Does that make any sence??????????
    Vote these loosers out they want their Insurance also are looking out for the Insurance companys so they can get their under the table hand outs .

    January 13, 2010 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  25. U.S. Common Sense

    And yet nothing was resolved and no details shared with the public. Typical.

    January 13, 2010 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
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