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House Dems: No Progress in Health Reform Negotiations « The Washington Independent

Via Roll Call, some key House Democrats indicated last night that there’s been no progress as House and Senate leaders try to iron out the differences between their health reform bills. As a result of the stalemate, they’re predicting that the final bill likely won’t emerge until next month — a setback to Democrats who hoped to have the legislation on President Obama’s desk before his State of the Union address.

“We’ve got a problem on both sides of the Capitol. A serious problem,” Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) said Tuesday evening. …

Another senior House Democrat familiar with negotiations on the bill said no progress has been made this week on any of the key sticking points in the House and Senate bills, despite steady meetings with union leaders and the White House.

The focus recently has been on the revenue-building differences between the bills, with the Senate proposing a tax on high-cost insurance plans and the House preferring a tax on wealthy Americans. But the discrepancies are many, including questions about how to approach abortion coverage, illegal immigrants, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, the Senate’s $80 billion deal with Big Pharma, and the creation of a public insurance plan.

With that many hot-button issues to work out, the real wonder is not why the negotiations are stalled, buy why Democratic leaders thought they could merge the bills in just a few weeks.

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