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« DNC: GOP 'Playing Politics' With Health Care | Blog Home Page | Strategy Memo: East Room Sales Pitch »

Blue Dogs Talk Health Cost With Obama

President Obama spent an hour meeting with Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, talks a key conservative Democrat called productive, though no final decisions on a key concern -- cost containment.

"There's a number of potential cost-cutting measures which I think the American people expect before we consider any kind of new revenue," Rep. Mike Ross (D-Ark.), head of the Blue Dog Democrats' health care task force, told reporters after the meeting today. "They want us to squeeze every ounce of savings we can out of the current system. That's what we're demanding."

Ross said the entire meeting focused "specifically on cost containment," and said there are "a lot of ideas out there." But he and his colleagues want to see another CBO score that factors in projected savings before agreeing to any specific terms.

Energy and Commerce Committee chair Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) said that Obama "expressed to us his great, strong, firm commitment that the legislation that he signed will have to be deficit neutral and will hold down the cost in the future."

Meanwhile, the White House hinted today that it may be open to taxing a portion of health insurance benefits, on so-called "Cadillac" plans. Press secretary Robert Gibbs echoed comments the president made last night in an interview with Jim Lehrer, differentiating Obama's opposition to ending the deductibility of health insurance benefits altogether with such a limited exclusion being lifted on the most expensive plans.

"He doesn't support what Senator McCain proposed in the campaign, which, as you know, wasn't a tax on a certain level of the exclusion but instead to remove the entire tax deductibility," Gibbs said.