Reid Defends Concessions Made to Centrists in Health Care Bill

Posted December 21, 2009 at 1:52pm

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Monday defended the special treatment granted to certain states under the Democrats’ $871 billion health care package and said the bill would be a huge step forward for the country.

Reid, essentially taking a victory lap after clearing a key procedural hurdle early Monday morning, was joined by Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.); Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) at an afternoon news conference to announce the American Medical Association’s endorsement of the Senate package.

“Never have we been so close to reforming America’s broken health insurance system,— Reid said. “That’s what legislating is all about; it’s the art of compromise.—

Reid was referring to deals that leaders cut with centrist Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), who received extra Medicaid funding for their states to help win their support.

Other Democratic Senators also succeeded in changing the bill. Among them were Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Evan Bayh of Indiana, who fought to reduce a proposed tax on medical device companies that are predominantly located in their states.

Early Monday morning, all 60 Democrats voted to kill a Republican filibuster of the manager’s amendment to the health care package. Reid and his leadership team considered that vote the primary hurdle to overcome and are now all but assured of passing the final product by Christmas.