Sen. Hatch Gives Up on Bipartisan Health Reform Talks

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), one of four Republicans that have been attempting to hash out a bipartisan health care reform proposal in the Senate Finance Committee, gave up on the effort Wednesday.

"It's going to be difficult for me to support what they are talking about, so I'd rather be upfront about it," Mr. Hatch told reporters, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Hatch said he is opposed to a mandate for individuals, the employer mandate, and a government-sponsored health insurance plan, according to Bloomberg. All of those provisions are major elements of health care legislation passed in another Senate committee and included in the health care bill in the House of Representatives.

Hatch was part of the so-called "group of seven" -- four moderate Republicans and three Democrats working toward compromise in the Finance Committee. Led by Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.), the group has been considering a proposal to establish non-profit cooperatives that would compete with the private insurance industry, rather than a government-sponsored insurance plan, or "public option."

Hatch said Wednesday, however, he was afraid the group would capitulate to liberal demands for a public option.

"I am definitely concerned about the high costs of this bill, the push towards a single-payer system -- which is what it is, that's what's behind the whole government plan option," Mr. Hatch said, the Wall Street Journal reported.

President Obama and leaders in Congress initially called for a bipartisan reform package, but issues like how to raise revenues for reform have strained cooperation with Republicans, and the president has toned down his rhetoric -- indicating that he would consider a bill that simply includes Republican amendments bipartisan, even if it wins no Republican votes.

The Senate Finance Committee has yet to introduce its own version of reform, taking weeks longer than expected to produce a compromise. Some have seen the committee's efforts as the last hope for forging a bipartisan bill -- or even the last hope for reform at all.

See Also: Republican Sen. Tom Coburn Op-Ed on Health Care Impasse Is An Opportunity