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Health bill - 'on life support' - highlights political divides

Democrats need to find 'comfort zone of the American people'

President Obama's State of the Union speech has so far failed to unite Democrats on a health reform strategy as they "stared down a political nightmare," The Associated Press reports.

"The grim reality opened a divide between the rank and file and congressional leaders, who insisted health care would get done, even though last week's special election in Massachusetts denied Democrats the 60-vote majority they need to deliver in the Senate. Many Democrats saw a problem with no clear solution."

Politico: "Democrats in Congress said all the right things Thursday to show they were dutifully heeding the president’s call to keep plugging away on a health reform bill. But listen more closely, and it’s clear health care is already falling to the back of the legislative line . . .

"And Democrats seemed "as confused and divided" after the State of the Union speech as they were before. But "congressional aides say there is a legitimate process under way to find a way to finish the job on health care".

U.S. News & World Report: "The task, (Democrats) say, is to regroup, not to retreat. 'I think what we've learned is that change is not easy,' says a House Democratic aide. 'Bringing about real change, sweeping change, is not a quick process. There are going to be people on both sides saying you haven't done enough or you've done too much.' The challenge, the aide says, is finding the comfort zone of the American people."

Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent news service. It is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health-care-policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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