Senate Odd Couple Crafts Health Care Compromise

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 10, 2009 9:49 AM CDT
Charles Grassley and Ron Wyden talk with Health and Human Services Secretary-designate, Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius on Capitol Hill, April 2, 2009.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
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(Newser) – One is a 59-year-old liberal who used to advocate for senior citizens. The other is a 75-year-old conservative businessman. But together senators Ron Wyden of Oregon and Robert Bennett of Utah may have crafted a bipartisan health plan with legs, writes Gerald Seib of the Wall Street Journal. Their Healthy Americans Act would give insurance to every American, and has features that will please—and displease—both sides of the aisle.

“There’s a philosophical truce that’s reachable here,” says Wyden, during a breakfast with Bennett. Liberals will be pleased that the bill requires everyone to buy health insurance, and helps pay for it. But it requires those policies to come from private insurers, which ought to please conservatives. The real opposition comes from what Bennett calls “the status quo caucus,” and that caucus is shrinking fast.