Little progress has been made in continuing negotiations on Capitol Hill over a bipartisan health care reform bill … here are the key developments:
1) Taxing health care benefits? That idea is all but dead. Democratic leaders and President Obama have made it clear they don't want to go down this path. Republicans are also starting to peel away from the idea.
2) Bipartisan negotiations? They do continue … but they're on life support right now. The president had wanted a bipartisan bill with a lot of support from both Democrats and Republicans in the senate. Part of the issue is that if you lose the option of taxing health care benefits, it becomes very difficult for both side to agree on a way to find the money to pay for health care reform.
3) Obama's deadline of a bipartisan health care reform bill by the August recess? That is looking very hard to achieve. I heard today, for the first time, that the August recess may get pushed back to give senators more time. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Ia., A key player in the health reform negotiations, told me bipartisan talks are continuing, but he tweeted there is "no hard timeline" for any health care reform bill.
But Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said today that he doesn't see a path for a bipartisan bill on health care reform. "We both know there are no real bipartisan negotiations going on – peeling off an R or 2 is not real negotiation," McCain tweeted.
As a fall back plan, Democrats on Capitol Hill are planning to go this alone. That will increase the chance that we'll see Obama's public option in the bill.