Health care negotiations have ‘serious problems’

Leading negotiators on both sides of the Hill are warning of troubles in the talks to find a final bill. While the focus has been on 60 in the Senate, 218 in the House can’t be taken for granted:

Congressional Democrats face “serious problems” in getting a healthcare reform bill to the president’s desk, according to a House panel chairman.

“We’ve got to get a bill that’s more compatible to the House,” Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) said Tuesday. “Forget all the other questions. Two-hundred-eighteen [votes] is the most important issue we are dealing with… We have serious problems on both sides of the Capitol. Serious problems.”

Rangel’s comments come a day after Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) said health reform is “hanging by a thread.”

There has been an expectation that the House would take the Senate bill — with a few minor tweaks to make it look like there was some give-and-take. But, House members are holding firm on some key issues, including the tax on the policies that cost more (inaccurately dubbed the “cadillac” tax.) From the New York Times:

But Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York, said: “The view of many progressives is that the tax is unacceptable. It would affect a lot of middle-income people.”

Mr. Nadler said the politics of the tax should worry Democrats. In effect, he said, “the tax tells blue-collar workers that you should pay higher taxes and get lower benefits to help finance coverage for the uninsured.”

And, that’s just one issue of contention.

House Democrats hold their “issues conference” tomorrow and Friday. Obama is expected to attend. From what I understand, Obama’s visit to the House Democratic caucus in November, before the final vote on the health care bill, didn’t change one vote. Let’s see how this next visit to the caucus goes.


On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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