Bipartisan Health Care Talks Push On

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Just when you thought the vultures had landed on a bipartisan health care deal, seems the three GOP senators haven’t totally walked away from the table. First, there was the news this morning on Olympia Snowe’s talks with the White House on a compromise and then Mike Enzi put out this statement:

“My position has been consistent from the start. I haven’t walked away from our shared goal of health care reform or compromised the original principles I outlined as essential to any plan for reform.  I opposed the Senate HELP Committee bill that passed on a straight party line vote, and I opposed the House bill reported out of Committee on a straight party line vote.  That is not bipartisanship. I have consistently said that I would oppose a government-run option. I believe we need to increase not decrease private competition and transparency, and if Congress is serious about reducing the cost of health care we need to look at some type of malpractice reform.

More after the jump:

“Despite some reports, I am still working with Senator Baucus and other members of the so-called Gang of Six. These discussions led by Senator Baucus have been productive, and I plan to continue with them.  Chairman Baucus has promoted a bipartisan process that was absent when the House and HELP Committee bills were drafted. This truly bipartisan approach is the best way to solve the real health care problems facing our nation because both parties are at the table and working on solutions without being rushed by arbitrary deadlines.

“In the last paragraph of my Republican weekly address I said that, ‘I hope the President and the Democratic-controlled Congress will reject the go-it-alone path that they are currently on.  If they do, we’ll have a chance to truly work on a real bill that will address those critical issues.  Then we can bring about the reform necessary to decrease health care costs and increase access to affordable, quality health care for all Americans.’

“That part of my speech is something a lot of people seem to be conveniently ignoring along with my long record of passing bipartisan bills. I will continue down a bipartisan path in hope of passing a health care reform bill the American people will support.”

Finance negotiators are pushing through as if none of this circus is happening, still trying to get a bill by the September 15 deadline. In fact, all six senators have a conference call scheduled for this afternoon. The House is paying close attention to the talks and is unlikely to move their bill, HR3200, until they see if a bipartisan solution can be reached. Indeed, if anything, HR3200 is the casualty of the summer. Before recess I would’ve predicted easy passage through the House but now moderate Dems, already freaked out by the cap and trade vote, are balking at passing a bill with a public plan in it.