Washington - President Obama and congressional Democrats are rethinking their healthcare strategy in the wake of a Republican victory in the Massachusetts Senate race, giving serious consideration to abandoning the comprehensive approach in favor of incremental steps that might salvage key elements of the package.
Obama appeared to endorse such an approach Wednesday. "I would advise that we try to move quickly to coalesce around those elements of the package that people agree on," the president said in an interview with ABC News.
"We know that we need insurance reform, that the health insurance companies are taking advantage of people," Obama said. "We know that we have to have some form of cost containment because if we don't, then our budgets are going to blow up. And we know that small businesses are going to need help so that they can provide health insurance to their families. Those are the core -- some of the core -- elements of, to this bill."
While nearly all Republicans fought the Democratic healthcare legislation last year as too intrusive and too costly, some have indicated support for parts of the package, including ending the practice by some insurance companies of terminating consumers' policies when they get sick.
"I believe that if the president reached out to a group of Republicans, including our leaders . . . the president would find that Republicans are willing to sit down with him and talk about how to achieve a bipartisan bill," said Maine Sen. Susan Collins, a moderate Republican who supported the president's economic recovery bill last year but voted against the healthcare overhaul.
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