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House Democrats Ready to Unveil Health Bill Friday

House Democrats say they are on track to release a working draft of their health care overhaul on Friday, although a bipartisan group of lawmakers said Thursday that they are worried about the process getting bogged down.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) held a series of health care meetings Thursday afternoon with chairmen and others writing the health care bill, which will include a public health plan, a tax on employers that don’t provide health care and a requirement that individuals buy health insurance.

Meanwhile, Reps. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), Parker Griffith (D-Ala.), Mike Castle (R-Del.) and Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.) held a press conference appealing for a more bipartisan approach to crafting the overhaul.

“We are not here to slow it down,” Cooper said. “That’s not true. What we’re trying to do is make sure reform happens.”

Cooper said the best way to do that is to work toward bipartisan support. He said that health reform already appears to be bogging down in the Senate and argued against going the route of using reconciliation to jam through a bill with just 51 votes.

Cooper, a member of the Blue Dog Coalition, said the restrictions on such a bill, including requirements that it reduce the deficit over a five-year period and not include language that does not have a measurable impact on spending and revenues, make that route unrealistic.

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