Monday, December 07, 2009

Obama Seeks to Rally Senate Democrats on Final Health-Care Plan


President Barack Obama plans to head to the U.S. Capitol to press Senate Democrats to agree on health legislation as lawmakers struggle to resolve disputes over issues including a proposed government-run insurance plan.

Democrats met throughout yesterday to seek an alternative to Senate Majority Harry Reid’s plan to create the new national program to cover the uninsured. Opposition within his party leaves Reid at risk of falling four votes short of the 60 he needs to pass the legislation, the most sweeping overhaul of the nation’s health-care system in more than four decades.

Obama’s scheduled visit comes as the bill’s backers need a jolt to come together, said Massachusetts Democrat John Kerry.

“We have to talk about how to put the final pieces together,” Kerry said. “It’s good to hear from the president now, because it’s getting to that stage where you have to come to a decision with your heart as well as your head.”

Reid called the rare weekend session to meet his deadline of getting a bill by year-end. Republicans, unified in opposition, forced the Democrats yesterday to reiterate their support for cutting more than $40 billion in home health-care services funding under Medicare. It was the latest Republican effort to highlight the bill’s potential impact on the elderly.

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