Dems’ enthusiasm on healthcare wanes

The healthcare thrill is gone.

A year ago, Democrats gushed with excitement about reforming the nation’s healthcare system. Now they talk about it like an unfinished chore.

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“I don’t think you’ll find much enthusiasm, but there are people who believe it has to be done, whether it’s with enthusiasm or not,” said Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.). “The debate has become so polarized and so divisive that people are saying, ‘We’ve got to revisit this, but it will be out of a sense of obligation.’ ”

Sen. Mark PryorMark PryorMedicaid rollback looms for GOP senators in 2020 Cotton pitches anti-Democrat message to SC delegation Ex-Sen. Kay Hagan joins lobby firm MORE (D-Ark.), a centrist from a right-leaning state, issued a press statement in February 2009 hailing President Barack ObamaBarack ObamaMeghan McCain: Obama 'a dirty capitalist like the rest of us' Dems might begin again with Kamala Harris and California Obama shamefully lines pockets with 0K for Wall Street speech MORE’s address to Congress and saying he “shared the urgency” to address healthcare reform.

Fatigued from a year of rancor, however, Pryor and other Democrats on Tuesday said they would revisit the issue only reluctantly.

“We’ve spent a lot of time on this last year, and my sense is that most senators would like to move on to other subjects like jobs and the economy,” said Pryor. “But it depends on what form it comes back in.”

Sen. Tom CarperTom CarperDems probe claims of religious bias in DHS 'trusted traveler' program Senate Dems want Trump to release ethics waivers, visitor logs Medicare’s coverage decisions need more input from physicians MORE (D-Del.) said, “If we stop now, it’ll be another 15 years before we get this close again.”

From senior party leaders to the rank and file, members of the majority party denied the issue of healthcare is dead and said they would renew their efforts after a series of pending bills to spur job growth. But they have acknowledged that the path to passage is much more complicated in the wake of

Republican Scott Brown’s special-election win in Massachusetts last month.

To cool temperatures, some Democrats suggested restarting the effort by focusing on ideas that appear to draw some bipartisan support, such as allowing health insurers to compete across state lines, removing antitrust exemptions for insurers and barring loopholes for pre-existing conditions

“We have to work out a bill; the question is what, and that’s the not-easy part,” said Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne FeinsteinComey to testify before Senate Judiciary Committee House cyber chairman wants to bolster workforce Trump, lower court nominees need American Bar Association review MORE (D-Calif.). “If it has to be incremental, so be it.”

Privately, Democratic leaders say they plan to decide their future strategy within the next few days. Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidDraft House bill ignites new Yucca Mountain fight Week ahead: House to revive Yucca Mountain fight Warren builds her brand with 2020 down the road MORE (D-Nev.) told reporters Tuesday that the issue would be revived “in the near future.”

“We plan to do healthcare this year, and we plan to do it as quick as we can,” Reid said Tuesday.

A couple of Democrats, including Sens. Patty MurrayPatty MurrayDems unveil bill targeting LGBT harassment on college campuses Trump said he would create ‘more jobs and better wages’ — he can start with federal contractors Sanders, Dems introduce minimum wage bill MORE (Wash.) and Ron WydenRon WydenFranken, top Dems blast FCC over net neutrality proposal Trump goes big on tax reform Trump gets tough with Canada MORE (Ore.), anticipated “a lot” of enthusiasm for revisiting the issue.

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“People recognize this as a serious issue for families and businesses across the country, and we’ve worked really hard on it,” Murray said. “This is something that hits families. It has a huge impact.”

Among the more skeptical Democrats: Sen. Mary LandrieuMary LandrieuMedicaid rollback looms for GOP senators in 2020 Five unanswered questions after Trump's upset victory Pavlich: O’Keefe a true journalist MORE (La.), who has said the legislation is “on life support.”

“I’m for trying to move forward. But it’s very unclear right now,” Landrieu said. ”It’s got a pulse, it’s got a possibility. But it’s going to be very difficult to get anything through reconciliation, even with trying to get 50 votes.”