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Egos on Deck in Health Care Fix

Indeed, several aides said Kennedy did just that by making sure that Clinton had a seat at the table and a leadership role. The thinking is that it is better to have her working on the inside than building a competing coalition of support for her own proposals on the outside.

Kennedy and Baucus have been reaching out to Republicans, though Baucus appears to be getting more credit from the GOP at the moment.

“Obviously, [Baucus] is going to be the point guy on this in the Senate — along with Sen. Kennedy,” said Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), who said he has been contacted by Baucus about the issue.

Baucus and Kennedy also have been holding meetings with private and public sector stakeholders — such as insurers, health care providers, advocacy groups and the business community — in the debate to try to identify fault lines and points of contention.

One person whose group has been a participant in the meetings said that so far they have been “pretty productive” and that the debate has been “a dramatic improvement” over the Clinton-era health care debacle.

“It’s significant how different the landscape is,” the source said.

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