Hoyer Optimistic a Health Deal Is Within Reach

Posted December 15, 2009 at 11:30am

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) is bullish on prospects for a final deal on health care reform, even after Senate Democrats dropped both the public insurance option and a Medicare expansion favored by liberals in his chamber.

“The guts of this bill, on both sides of the aisle, is the adding of some 30 million-plus people to access to affordable, quality health care,— Hoyer told reporters Tuesday at his weekly roundtable. “That is the central impact of this bill.—

Hoyer indicated thorough and potentially lengthy conference negotiations will still be necessary to iron out major differences between the two chambers’ versions of the sweeping package. Among the sticking points will be how to keep the measure from adding to the deficit, especially considering that the public option included in the House version saved an estimated $65 billion over 10 years.

But Hoyer noted that — “obviously— — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) doesn’t have the votes for the provision. “There is no doubt we believe the public option was a positive addition to the bill, which brought costs down, created competition, and provided access to individuals,— he said. “So we’re for it. I’m not discussing the perfect, I’m discussing the possible.—

And the House Democratic No. 2 took an oblique swipe at Sen. Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.), lately the bogeyman of the party’s left wing for sinking an expansion of Medicare that had emerged as a compromise approach in the Senate. “I talk a lot about the psychology of consensus,— Hoyer said. “Too often it appears that the psychology in the Senate is the psychology of one.—