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Some Dems warm to smaller healthcare bill

  |   Jan. 22, 2010 at 11:29 AM
WASHINGTON, Jan. 22 (UPI) -- Some U.S. House Democrats indicated they may be open to considering a scaled-back version of healthcare reform legislation, aides said.

While House leaders publicly haven't committed to a leaner approach, one leadership aide said the idea is gaining traction with the rank-and-file caucus membership, The Hill reported.

"Today the momentum of support was for sequencing this bill and bringing provisions to the floor individually," the aide said Thursday.

Republican Scott Brown's victory in Massachusetts lost Senate Democrats their filibuster-proof majority. Since then, the party has been trying to figure out how to go forward on healthcare legislation.

Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J., said he has talked about paring down massive House and Senate bills into smaller bites, the Washington publication said.

"Both of the (House and Senate) bills as they stand now are dead," Pascrell said. "One of the things the caucus was in agreement on was that we can't take up the Senate bill, and that we would be arrogant if we simply took up our own bill again."

Pascrell, saying 25 Democrats back his move, said his plan would include incorporating health insurance reform measures into a patient's bill of rights context, working on creating a competitive market, eliminating the private insurance anti-trust exemption and addressing liability reform in a stepped process, The Hill said.

House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., one of the architects of the House bill, intimated a scaled-back effort would fail to achieve the goals Democrats established for healthcare reform.

"We have ... (to) keep our eye on the objectives of covering all Americans, holding down healthcare costs, providing reforms in the insurance system so they can't keep people from getting coverage," Waxman said.

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