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  Pelosi Says House Lacks Votes to Adopt Senate Healthcare Bill  

ABC World News (1/21, story 5, 0:20, Sawyer) reported, "A reality check on healthcare reform: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced [Thursday] she does not have the votes to ram through the Senate version of the bill, so she called for a pause on the whole issue, saying we're not in a rush."


        The CBS Evening News (1/21, story 2, 2:20, Couric) also noted that Pelosi "conceded...she does not have the votes to get the Senate bill through the House." AFP (1/21) notes that Pelosi cited "'unrest' and 'unease' among House Democrats."


        The Washington Post (1/22, Murray, Kane) reports, "Pelosi described her members as vehemently opposed to a provision that benefits only Nebraska's Medicaid system, language added to win the vote" of Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE). The Post adds, "Also problematic are the federal subsidies the Senate would offer to uninsured individuals, which some House liberals view as insufficient, and the excise tax it would impose on high-value policies, which could hit union households." The Washington Times (1/22, Haberkorn), The Hill (1/22, Fabian, O'Brien, subscription required), and the Christian Science Monitor (1/22, Chaddock), among other news outlets, also report Pelosi's comments this morning.


        On NPR's Talk Of The Nation (1/21, Roberts), health correspondent Julie Rovner said, "I think in both the House and the Senate, lawmakers are in full hair-on-fire panic mode. They have been running around, trying to figure out what to do next, how to salvage this bill that was this close to getting to the President's desk. As of last Friday, they were really very close...and then, obviously, as they were starting to see these polls from Massachusetts that looked increasingly like Martha Coakley was not going to make it...the negotiations kind of came to an abrupt halt Friday afternoon. And now, it looks like that bill is no more."


        Democrats ponder "piecemeal measures," "consensus" bill. The Hill (1/22, Allen, subscription required) reports, "There is growing consensus in the House Democratic Caucus that comprehensive healthcare legislation is dead and the only option is to pass a series of piecemeal measures." A "leadership aide" tells The Hill, "Today the momentum of support was for sequencing this bill and bringing provisions to the floor individually."


        The New York Times (1/22, A1, Pear, Herszenhorn) reports on its front page that "the consensus measure would be less ambitious and less contentious than the bills the House and the Senate passed last year. It would use carrots rather than sticks to achieve some of the same goals." The bill "would extend coverage to perhaps 12 million to 15 million people -- and provide political cover to Democrats, who said they could not simply drop the issue after spending so much time and effort on it last year."


        The Wall Street Journal (1/22, Adamy, Bendavid, subscription required) reports that Pelosi cited provisions that would prevent insurers from denying coverage for regarding pre-existing conditions, that would repeal the insurance industry's antitrust exemption, and that would cap insurers' profits.


        Roll Call (1/22, Drucker, subscription required) reports that on Thursday, Senate Democratic Conference Vice Chairman Charles Schumer (NY) said that "his caucus is still weighing its options in the wake of Republican Scott Brown's (R) stunning election to succeed the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D) in Massachusetts." He said, "We're all exploring the right way to go. ... Obviously, you cannot just proceed as if nothing happened, because something very significant happened. But there's a strong view...that we want to do some good things in healthcare. The question is how -- how much and how quickly?"


        Families USA director urges lawmakers not to take an incremental approach to health reform. CQ HealthBeat (1/21, Reichard, subscription required) reported that as "Democrats...talk increasingly about some kind of scaled-back bill while promising that they will still move forward," in a letter to lawmakers Families USA Executive Director Ron Pollack said "this incremental approach is a recipe for disaster." He added, "This is your moment for political courage, vision and leadership." Pollack asked officials "not to 'abandon' the 31 million Americans without healthcare benefits.



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