Tentative tax deal marks health care breakthrough

by David Espo and Sam Hananel
Associated Press
January 14, 2010

WASHINGTON – In a major breakthrough, union leaders bowed Thursday to White House demands for a new tax on high-cost insurance plans as part of landmark health care legislation taking final shape in intensive negotiations. “We are on the doorstep” of success, President Barack Obama said.

The tentative agreement on the tax, which included significant concessions by the administration, was disclosed as leading lawmakers set an informal timetable of Friday for a compromise on the health care bill that Obama made a top priority in taking office a year ago.

Democrats expressed the hope that the agreement would quickly open the way for progress on other key issues where House and Senate-passed bills differ, as well as attempts by the White House to squeeze additional financial concessions from drug makers, nursing homes and other health care providers.

On a separate issue, makers of generic drugs, backed by the White House and a senior congressional ally, sought to reduce the patent protection that pharmaceutical companies receive for their new-to-market biotech products. The House and Senate bills both limit competition for 12 years.

The fast-paced events came as senior lawmakers went to the White House for the second straight day of bargaining over terms of a final compromise, and Obama gave a rousing speech to rank and file House Democrats in a late-afternoon appearance in the Capitol complex.
Referring to polls that show lagging support for the legislation, he told Democrats, “I know how big a lift this has been.”

The article continues at YahooNews.

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