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Gut-check for Dems on health care

It's gut-check time for President Obama and congressional Democrats on their health care overhaul.

A stinging loss Tuesday in Massachusetts cost Obama the 60-vote Senate majority he was counting on to pass the far-reaching legislation. The outcome splintered the rank and file on how to salvage the bill, energized congressional Republicans and left Obama and the Democrats with fallback options that range from bad to worse.

A leading idea involves persuading House Democrats to pass a Senate bill that many of them have serious problems with. Another alternative calls for Senate Democrats to promise to make changes to the bill later on. Some Democrats said their big hopes would have to be scaled back.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi refused to acknowledge that as a possibility as she left the Capitol near midnight Tuesday after meeting with her top lieutenants to discuss the way forward. Pelosi and others contend that because Massachusetts already has near-universal health coverage under a state law, the upset victory by GOP state Sen. Scott Brown to take Ted Kennedy's old seat could not be seen as a referendum on the issue.

""We will get the job done. I'm very confident. I've always been confident," she added.


Republicans disagreed.

"[Brown's] victory is an inspiration to conservatives across the country to continue our fight for freedom from an overbearing federal government." Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty said.

The legislation would expand coverage to more than 30 million Americans now uninsured, while attempting to rein in the growth of health care costs.

Also Tuesday, former Mayo Clinic CEO Dr. Denis Cortese said at the Economic Club of Phoenix luncheon Tuesday that the House and Senate bills don't address health challenges like inefficient care and spiraling costs, that they focus too much on insurance reform instead of quality of care and that "even the rosiest projections" would result in about 26 million Americans left without health insurance, the Arizona Republic reported.

But Jeff Korsmo, current executive director of the Mayo Clinic Health Policy Center, said, "we agree that it's in the patient’s best interests to incent the delivery system to pay for value in health care. We believe the provisions currently before Congress will begin to move us in the right direction."

He continued, saying both the Senate and House passed "provisions that will begin to move Medicare toward a system that pays for value."


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