Clyburn believes House will pass health bill by even wider margin

The House will pass a new healthcare reform bill with a larger majority than it did on its first bill,
House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said Monday.

Clyburn made his comments just after President Barack Obama unveiled his detailed health plan Monday morning. The move was intended to set the agenda for the bipartisan healthcare summit at the White House on Thursday.

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"I do believe that if what I have seen and what I've been hearing is close to being accurate, I do believe that we can get there in the House," he said on MSNBC. "We got there with some people holding out for some things that we have now gotten in the Senate plan and in the president's proposal.

"I do believe there is more fertile soil today than when we first took this up."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) issued a cool statement about the plan earlier Monday, but Clyburn's comments could indicate that the president's proposal could make a vote on the Senate healthcare bill easier to stomach for wary House members.

Clyburn, the Democrat's chief vote-counter, cautioned that he "would hate to get out in front of my caucus" but said that fixes made to the Senate bill in the president's proposal plus some that were discussed in negotiations with Senate leaders could finally allow Democrats to reach a deal. 

While Obama's plan largely mirrors the Senate bill, it includes important concessions to the House's version.

The plan strips the Senate bill of the so-called "Cornhusker Kickback" Medicaid deal for Nebraska and instead increases Medicaid funding for all states.

It also boosts health insurance for tax credits for low- and middle-income individuals and families and closes Medicare Part D's "doughnut hole," which is a gap in prescription drug coverage for seniors.

Obama's proposal does not include the public health insurance option, but Clyburn said he was not upset by the decision, even though he said last week it "could very well be" included in the final bill.

"I do believe that what the president is proposing will be a good jumping off point of us to have a very meaningful discussion on Thursday," Clyburn said.

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