Some Dems urge breaking up health bill after Mass. loss

Some House Democrats urged leaders Wednesday to break up their healthcare bill into smaller pieces in the wake of Republicans' victory in Massachusetts.

Reps. William Delahunt (D-Mass.) and John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), both of whom had previously voted for the House healthcare bill, said that Democrats should dissemble their comprehensive package and work to pass elements of it in smaller, individual portions.

"I think that we would get a good policy out of a series of bills that were brought up over the next several months," Delahunt said during an appearance on MSNBC, urging a more modest approach. "What I think we should do is have discrete votes on all of the issues."

Such an approach would means that elements of health reform, which are currently all cobbled together in a single healthcare bill, would be parsed out for a series of votes on individual parts -- maybe four or five parts, Delahunt said.

"I think what we're going to have to do is do it on an incremental basis," Delahunt said. "I think we take those provisions, bring them to the floor, and vote on them."

Yarmuth, a centrist Democrat from Kentucky, seconded the idea of breaking up the bill, an idea which some lawmakers in both parties have floated before.

"I think what would probably be the best thing, from my perspective, for us to do the best thing on healthcare is to send pieces of the program -- pass them here, send them to the Senate -- and let the American people digest them bit by bit," Yarmuth said during an appearance on Fox News. "All the surveys show that people like the individual elements of what we in the House were trying to do."

Democrats have been considering a number of options on healthcare and other legislative priorities in the year ahead now that Republicans have enough votes to sustain a filibuster in the Senate.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), a member of the House Democratic leadership, suggested Wednesday that all options are "on the table" on how to proceed.

Some Democrats have suggested rushing to pass healthcare, while others have talked about forcing the House to pass the Senate's bill, with the upper chamber passing changes to the package later using budget reconciliation.

The incremental maneuver would carry some political risk, with a break-up of the bill meaning that some of the taxes and savings contained in the comprehensive bill -- which are key to the health bills' budget neutrality -- being put at risk for defeat.

It's not clear whether Republicans would join in such an effort. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) reiterated a demand that Democrats restart their healthcare negotiations in favor of a "step-by-step" approach, though it seems unlikely that the GOP would join with Democrats to support any of the individual elements the GOP finds distasteful.

This post was updated at 12:19 p.m.

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