Sep 8, 10:01 PM EDT
By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans would be fined up to $3,800 for failing to buy health insurance under a plan that circulated in Congress on Tuesday as divisions among Democrats undercut President Barack Obama’s effort to regain traction on his health care overhaul.
As Obama talked strategy with Democratic leaders at the White House, the one idea that most appeals to his party’s liberal base lost ground in Congress. Prospects for a government-run plan to compete with private insurers sank as a leading moderate Democrat, Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, said he could no longer support the idea.
The fast-moving developments put Obama in a box. As a candidate, he opposed fines to force individuals to buy health insurance, and he supported setting up a public insurance plan. On Tuesday, fellow Democrats publicly begged to differ on both ideas.
Democratic congressional leaders put on a bold front as they left the White House after their meeting with the president.
“We’re re-energized; we’re ready to do health care reform,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., insisted the public plan is still politically viable. “I believe that a public option will be essential to our passing a bill in the House of Representatives,” she said. MORE —>