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Democratic Leaders Head to White House Wednesday to Talk Health Care

House and Senate Democratic leaders are scheduled Wednesday morning to meet with President Barack Obama at the White House to discuss health care reform, according to sources familiar with the meeting.

Democrats are racing to reconcile competing health care bills approved last year by each chamber, hoping to give Obama a bill to sign by February. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is expected to attend the meeting in person.

Having decided to sidestep the traditional conference committee, Democratic leaders are working to merge the Senate’s $871 billion package with the House’s $1.2 trillion bill.

Sources familiar with the negotiations say one compromise being considered is the creation of a federally run insurance exchange to deliver health coverage. The Senate bill proposes state run insurance exchanges, while the House legislation calls for a public insurance option, a nonstarter in the Senate.

Also at issue is the overall cost of the bill. Anything costing more than $900 billion could be problematic. As one Democratic source said, if the price tag creeps up it would be billed as “almost $1 trillion,— which is likely to make Senators “nervous.—

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