Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole should make a health insurance compromise his parting gift to Congress, administration officials say, but Republicans contend President Clinton will be blamed if a deal falls through.
House Republicans and the Democratic White House appear deadlocked on the final form of a bill, wanted by both sides, to guarantee that people can carry health insurance from job to job and not lose their coverage because of pre-existing conditions."If there is anything I hope Sen. Dole can deliver on before he leaves the Senate, it is the Kennedy-Kassebaum bill," White House chief of staff Leon Panetta said Sunday of legislation co-sponsored by Sens. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and Nancy Kassebaum, R-Kan., that passed the Senate, 100-0.
Dole should remain in the Senate until the bill is passed, Kennedy said Monday in an interview with NBC. "We are this close in getting this important bill. I call on him to remain in the Senate," Kennedy said.
The measure has been stalled by Senate differences with the House, which attached provisions on medical savings accounts - tax-deductible contributions of up to $2,000 a year for an individual or $4,000 for a family into an account set up by an insurance company.
Under the proposal, which is strongly opposed by the administration, a consumer would get a high-deductible policy for catastrophic medical expenses. Money in the account could be used to pay for routine expenses.