Jan 21, 2010 10:33 AM by Associated Press

Democrats to begin discussing smaller health bill

President Barack Obama and his Democratic allies are conceding that they may have to accept a less ambitious health overhaul.

That's after a Republican won Tuesday's special Senate election in Massachusetts, ending the Democratic caucus' 60-vote majority.

Officials say a more modest health care bill could focus on curbing insurance company practices like denying coverage to sick people and on helping low-earning people and small businesses afford coverage.

White House officials and others say the administration wants the House to send Obama the far-reaching bill the Senate approved on Christmas Eve. That could be followed by separate legislation making changes sought by House members, union leaders and others.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leaders have been trying to talk their rank-and-file members into taking that path. They're expected to meet this morning to map out strategy.


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