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  Republicans ask Obama to "Start Over" on Health Reform  
 

White House adviser David Axelrod, in an appearance on ABC's This Week on Sunday, said the White House planned to continue its effort to pass a major healthcare bill. The Los Angeles Times (1/25, Puzzanghera) reports that Axelrod "vowed to move ahead with comprehensive healthcare legislation," saying, "'The President will not walk away from the American people, will not hand them over to the tender mercies of health insurance companies who take advantage' of them." The Times adds Axelrod's "comments came as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) called on the White House to scrap the legislation and 'start over.'" The Wall Street Journal (1/25, Adamy, subscription required) reports the White House, in a bid to rescue healthcare legislation, is focused on several of the more popular provisions of the bills in the House and Senate. As examples, the Journal cites measures that would extend the long-term financial health of Medicare, cut seniors' prescription drug costs, and limit out-of-pocket costs to consumers.

 

        Axelrod's comments come as Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), on CBS' "Face the Nation," suggested that the White House should instead open negotiations with Republicans to revive the legislation. The New York Times (1/25, Berger) reports McCain "advised his victorious 2008 adversary on Sunday that the way to get meaningful changes passed is to 'start from the beginning' by meeting with Republicans." McCain said President Obama "should sit down with Republican leaders and begin adopting some of their ideas for improving the nation's healthcare system such as overhauling medical malpractice lawsuits, allowing residents of one state to buy health insurance from a company in another state, and granting tax credits for people who purchase health insurance on their own."

 

        Politico (1/25, O'Connor, Brown) notes that House and Senate leaders "spent the weekend mulling over their decidedly narrow options to get reform back on track, as Obama's advisers took to the airwaves Sunday, vowing to push ahead -- but offering few specifics on what they realistically think they can achieve." Politico examines four issues that could determine whether or not a major healthcare bill passes Congress, including whether Democrats would use reconciliation to pass a measure in the Senate, whether a version of the Senate bill would pass the House, whether House Democrats have lost any of the 218 votes needed, and how much of a commitment President Obama will make to passing the bill.

 

        The Hill (1/25, Young, subscription required) says that the "tough spot in which Democrats find themselves is the result of a dozens of decisions made over the past year." The Hill lists ten issues that contributed to the Democrats' current dilemma, such as President Obama's decision "to let Congress hash out the details of healthcare," an inability to "keep to their self-imposed deadlines," and a failure to unite "behind a single message to the public."

 

        Hatch pushes for starting health overhaul debate over. The Salt Lake Tribune (1/25, Burr) reports that on Sunday, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said "that Congress needs to hit the reset button on healthcare reform and that Republicans will work with their counterparts on new legislation -- if Democrats allow it." Sen. Hatch said, "I don't know one Republican who does not want healthcare reform. ... I don't know one Republican who wouldn't try to work together with the Democrats. We weren't even involved in this process. We weren't even asked."

 

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