Aug. 1, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

‘80 Percent’ Agreement on Health Is Elusive

“I do think you can fix some of the 20 percent, and we ought to take first things first and try and address that,” Cantor said.

Scott told Roll Call on Tuesday the point he was trying to make wasn’t so much that there are areas where they agree, but that they can’t duck the tough issues.

Hoyer said he has had a number of conversations about health care reform with Rep. Roy Blunt (Mo.), the head of the GOP health care task force and former Minority Whip, but has yet to receive a copy of a Republican alternative.

Blunt’s spokeswoman, Burson Snyder, also said there is common ground with Democrats, although she didn’t go into specifics.

“It’s the portion of the Democrats’ plan committed to a government takeover of health care that Mr. Blunt objects to,” she said.

Other ideas that Republicans have put forward in various bills, but not in a Republican leadership bill, include tax breaks for individuals to buy insurance, small-business pooling across state lines, and incentives for prevention and wellness programs.

But a senior House Democratic leadership aide ripped the Republicans’ use of the 80 percent figure as a disingenuous attempt to portray themselves as something other than the “party of no.”

“They’ve spent the last three months basically criticizing every aspect of the bill,” the aide said. “It can only be a PR stunt. ... They’re trying to send a message to their base that we should scrap this bill and another message to independents and moderates and others saying look, you know, we do support some ideas of reform.”

The aide added, “They’re trying to have it both ways, and I think they are tripping all over themselves.”

Republicans have kept their own plan under wraps for months, saying Tuesday that they are still waiting to receive analyses from the Congressional Budget Office.

The Republican ideas, to the extent that they have detailed them, go in a far different direction than Democrats, even if there is some agreement on the goals. Both parties acknowledge that people with pre-existing conditions should be given affordable insurance. But Democrats would prohibit insurance companies from excluding people who are sick, while Republicans would send them into beefed-up high-risk insurance pools run by states.

Hoyer, for his part, didn’t show much willingness to compromise with Republicans, given that the public insurance option is a deal-breaker for the GOP.

Hoyer said Democrats are “not talking about dropping the public option.”

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