Democrat: Obama slowing down progress on health care reform

Discussion in 'Politics' started by toomuchtime_, Jul 17, 2009.

  1. toomuchtime_

    toomuchtime_ Gold Member

    Dec 29, 2008
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    WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Obama's opposition to taxing employer-provided health benefits has slowed progress on passing a health care reform bill, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee complained Thursday.

    "Basically, the president is not helping us," said Sen. Max Baucus, D-Montana, after emerging from closed talks on the bill. "He does not want the exclusion, and that's making it difficult."

    Later, Baucus and top committee members from both parties ended their private talks without an agreement as they hoped. Baucus said the earliest an agreement could come would be next week.

    After the meeting in Baucus' office with Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, the ranking Republican on the Finance Committee, and other key members, Baucus said they were getting close to a compromise plan.

    "We are making a lot of progress, but we're clearly not going to have an agreement tonight because there are a lot of issues," Baucus said. "This is a very, very complicated bill, but I feel very comfortable and very confident that in the near future we will reach that agreement."

    No details were disclosed. Republicans in the meeting praised Baucus for taking a bipartisan approach, with Grassley saying the proposal would achieve the goal of Obama and Congress of reducing health care costs over the long term -- known as "bending the cost curve down."

    In the Senate, Baucus is one of seven bipartisan members of the Senate Finance Committee who has been meeting for weeks trying to negotiate health care reform. Taxing the employer-provided benefits, which are currently excluded from taxation, had been the principal way Baucus wanted to raise $320 billion to help pay for the trillion-dollar health overhaul. Watch more on the health care debate ยป

    It was also considered a key way to reduce costs because tax-free benefits encourage more spending on health care, many experts believe.

    "With the tax exclusion off the table, it's difficult to come up with revenue measures and other savings measures," Baucus said. "We are clearly going to find ways to bend the cost curve in the right direction. That is, include provisions that actually vary the rate of increase in health care costs."

    Baucus' comments came on the same day the head of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said health reform bills moving through Congress won't reduce long-term health care costs -- in part because the bills don't include taxes on health benefits.

    Democrat: Obama slowing down progress on health care reform -

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