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Warner Joins Freshmen to Trim Health Bill’s Costs

Sen. Mark Warner (Va.) is working with a group of his fellow Democratic freshmen on amendments to the health care reform package to address their concerns over the plan’s costs. Warner on Thursday described the proposals as a “freshman package— designed to strengthen some of the cost-containment measures already in Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) bill, while incorporating additional ideas that would help lower health care costs. Warner said incorporating his package into the legislation is important but not necessarily essential to his support of the final health care bill. “It takes some of the things that are already in the bill, but it makes them more aggressive,— said Warner, a moderate former governor and businessman. “It allows us to actually take proven results and move them faster into providing broader-based cost containment.—Meantime, freshman Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) is working with Warner and Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) on an alternative public insurance option proposal they hope can garner 60 votes. Begich said the amendment process is giving Members who are not on the Finance or Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committees an opportunity to influence the direction of health care reform. Begich referred to the cost-containment amendments being drafted under Warner’s leadership as a “pretty significant package— and indicated that he and other Democratic freshmen need at least some of their proposals to be adopted to vote for final passage.“That’s one reason why a group of us freshmen have been working aggressively on additional cost containment,— Begich said.

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