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Daschle playing key role in health reforms

Aug. 23, 2009 at 12:51 PM

WASHINGTON, Aug. 23 (UPI) -- Former U.S. Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., is playing a key role in shaping a healthcare reform compromise measure, analysts say.

Daschle, who withdrew his nomination to be President Barack Obama's "health reform czar" in February after coming under fire for not paying certain taxes, has been ubiquitous in behind-the-scenes moves to forge an agreement establishing non-profit insurance cooperatives as an alternative to a government-run "public option" plan, The New York Times reported Sunday.

Daschle has been seen frequently at the White House and met with Obama Friday. He told the Times he sees no conflict between advising the president as well as private clients for whom he's working, such as the insurance giant UnitedHealth and the Tennessee Hospital Association, because he's telling them all the same thing -- there is not enough support in the Senate to pass a public option component.

"The message I deliver to labor unions and business leaders is the same one I share with doctors, hospitals and insurance companies," Daschle told the newspaper. "I do not tailor my views to any specific group or client."

Administration officials said they valued Daschle's help in finding a healthcare compromise.

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