This morning, President Obama will meet with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to paper over major differences between the two chambers' health care bills.
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At issue will be how to modify Reid's bill in a way that it can pass the House without making re-passage in the Senate impossible. The most contentious outstanding issue is simply how to pay for reform. The Senate and the White House stand behind a tax that generates major savings, but also hits a segment of middle class Americans, and has raised the ire of unions--a key Democratic constituency. The House (and labor) would prefer the wealthy to bear the cost. However, a number of potential compromises seem to be on the table as Democratic negotiators seek common ground.
Separately, there's the question of whether new health insurance marketplaces will be organized and regulated at the national level (as in the House bill) or at the state level (as in the Senate bill). Obama reportedly backs the House on this issue, and last night Pelosi made clear that she views a national exchange as a necessary part of a successful reform effort.
"The national exchange is essential to having a working plan," Pelosi told reporters.