Lawmakers Begin Private Talks on Health Care

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Senate negotiations on health care moved behind closed doors on Capitol Hill, Wednesday.

Leaders want a bill for the full Senate to vote on by the end of the month.

The White House sent in its heavy hitters to try and broker a deal, but it seems compromise won't be easy.

Tuesday's vote was monumental, but mostly symbolic when members of the Senate Finance Committee approved their plan for reforming health care.

Now, negotiations have moved from the spotlight of the committee to a back room where majority leader Harry Reid is calling the shots.

He'll have to serve many masters to get a plan approved by the full Senate.

"We know what the core of the bill will be," said minority leader Sen. Mitch McConnell. "It will be higher premiums, higher taxes and cuts in Medicare. That's not health care reform."

The Senate must now merge two plans: the Senate Finance Committee plan that does not include a public option for government run health insurance and the Senate health, education, labor and pensions plan that does.

Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe says she'll support the plan as long as leadership keeps the public option out.

Reid, however, must also appease his own colleagues-- Democrats who believe a public option is necessary to reform the system.

"We are not doing what we set out to do," said Sen. Jay Rockefeller said. "It is a step in the right direction but it is not enough."

Snowe is promoting an idea she thinks may bridge the differences.

"I have recommended having a safety net, a fallback of a public option, to kick in immediately if affordable choices aren't available to people in any given area of the country," she said.

While members of Congress fight among themselves, the White House is engaged in its own battle with the insurance industry-- a group once thought to be an ally.

The powerful lobby has launched an ad aimed at seniors.

It's an important turn of events since it was industry executives who helped kill health care reform under the Clinton administration.

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CBN News
Jennifer Wishon

Jennifer Wishon

CBN News White House Correspondent

Jennifer Wishon is the White House correspondent for CBN News based in the network’s Washington, D.C. Bureau.  Before taking over the White House beat, Jennifer covered Capitol Hill and other national news, from the economy to the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Follow Jennifer on Twitter @JenniferWishon and "like" her at