Health Care Cards

This was supposed to be a week where Democrats returned from a July 4th break and made great strides on health care reform. It didn't exactly turn out that way.

Instead of unveiling a bill today, House Democrats will wait until at least Monday to show their cards on what they want not only in the fine print of how people will gain health care coverage, but the equally tricky issue of how to pay for it.

The delay came as more moderate to conservative Democrats publicly balked last night at some of the basic ideas backed by their House leaders and liberals.

While the House was in a stop-and-start mode, the Senate wasn't doing much better.

The goal this week was for two Senate Committees to each produce a health care bill.  Neither panel was able to do that, showcasing the differences not only between Democrats and Republicans, but Democrats and Democrats.

"We have a total of 550 amendments pending," said a somewhat frustrated Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) as the Senate Health committee started to wrap up work on Thursday afternoon.

"We have a lot of work to do."

So does the Senate Finance Committee, which went in reverse this week, as Democratic leaders tried to deep-six the idea of taxing employer provided health care benefits for the first time, which sent Senators back to the drawing board on how to pay for reform.

Over in the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi also made clear that she wants to part of ending the tax exclusion for health benefits on the job.

"We will not be taxing benefits, health care benefits, in any legislation that comes from the House," said Pelosi.

But Pelosi was still having the same troubles that Senate Democrats have been dealing with for weeks, as more moderate to conservative "Blue Dog" Democrats were making noises about opposing health care reform plans that were set to be unveiled today.

It was another reminder that Democrats have been at this for weeks and weeks, and yet they still haven't been able to bridge the gaps among themselves.

You can't rule out the chance that such internal disagreements could ultimately doom this legislation, just as it did back in 1994.

As for the exact details of what Democrats in the House want to do - we'll see next week if we get anything more than just a broad outline.

If there is actual legislative language, I will try to post it on my blog as soon as possible so we can start going through it line by line.

The plan is for three House Committees to work on health reform legislation next week and report out their bills.

That would give House Democratic leaders a week to secure votes, wheel and deal, make some changes and deal a little more, before having a final vote just before leaving town at the end of the month.

At least that's the plan right now. The Senate is TBD on health care

This was supposed to be a week where Democrats returned from a July 4th break and made great strides on health care reform. It didn't exactly turn out that way. Instead of unveiling a bill today, House Democrats will wait until at least Monday to show their cards on what ...