Nightly News   |  February 25, 2010

Democrats give health reform the hard sell

Much of the attention around the health care summit has been focused on finding bipartisan support, but if House Democrats do not all agree, their internal party differences could be enough to derail reform.

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>> the white house lawn. this discussion, this fight over what to do about reforming health care has been going on now for a year. question is, what will it take to close this deal? kelly o'donnell is in our washington bureau tonight with more on that part of the story. kelly , good evening.

>> reporter: that's really it, brian. what can come of this summit? so much of the attention is finding a way for democrats and republicans to work together on health care reform , but the pressure is really on democrats . the test is whether they can trust each other's promises to get something passed. while the president was host and referee today, speaker of the house nancy pelosi must be the closer.

>> what we do here must be relevant to their lives. the yays are 218.

>> reporter: why? under the rules, the house needs to take the next step, voting on the senate's version of health care reform before taking up the fixes talked about today. and that's a very hard sell . no republican will vote for it.

>> we just can't afford this. that's the ultimate, that's the ultimate problem here.

>> reporter: and democrats in the house do not all agree. their internal party differences could be enough to derail reform. the issues? cost.

>> the cost issue is legitimate and whether we can afford it or not, we'll be discussing that.

>> reporter: a package estimated around $900 billion over ten years. that's too expensive for a group of about 50 conservative-leaning democrats .

>> health inflation is driving us off a cliff.

>> reporter: you heard about the cadillac tax on high-value health insurance plans that might affect union and middle class workers. many democrats can't stomach that and then face voters in november.

>> so this will take courage to do.

>> reporter: and then there are the social issues. immigration and abortion. some house democrats insist no taxpayer money go to insurance plans that cover abortion. a view shared by republicans who raised it with the president today.

>> this bill that we have before us begins for the first time in 30 years, allows for the taxpayer funding of abortion.

>> reporter: so it makes this so hard for house democrats is they could be pushed to cast a politically tough vote that might be unpopular in their home districts, not knowing if the senate will follow through, make some of the improvements and back them up. brian?

>> that's the trick. kelly o'donnell with that end of this story in our newsroom in washington. kelly , thanks.

>>> then there's this. all during