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GOP Leaders, Business Groups to Huddle on Health Care Reform

The top Republican Congressional leadership will host a meeting today with representatives of major business groups to discuss — and share concerns about — the Democratic health care reform plans working their way through the House and Senate.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.), Senate Republican Policy Committee Chairman John Thune (S.D.) and House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (Ind.) are expected to attend today’s meeting.

On the business side, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors, the National Federation of Independent Business and the National Retail Federation, among others, are expected to be represented.

Many of these groups provided essential money and manpower to support former President George W. Bush’s tax cuts and free-trade agenda. But the business community has, in general, been hesitant to publicly oppose President Barack Obama’s health care reform agenda, frustrating GOP leaders who believe the Democratic approach is anathema to business interests.

Republican leaders in Congress have characterized the Democratic bills moving in the House and Senate as job killers that will be detrimental to small businesses across the country.

Republicans stressed that the meeting today is not a strategy session to kill the Democratic legislation. It will allow business leaders to express their concerns and give Republicans leaders an opportunity to discuss their proposals for reform, according to GOP sources.

“This meeting is about discussing the need for reform and improving American health care to lower costs, increase access, and improve quality,— said a House GOP leadership aide. “House Democrats have overreached by putting together a government takeover of health care that has drawn bipartisan opposition in the House. The more the American people learn about it, the more they oppose it.—

House Republicans have said they will release their own health care reform plan after the Congressional Budget Office scores the bill.