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Last month, for example, hospital officials were poised to appear at the White House to announce a deal limiting their industry’s share of the costs of the overhaul proposal when a wave of jitters swept through the group. Senator Max Baucus, the Finance Committee chairman and a party to the deal, had abruptly pulled out of the event. Was he backing away from his end of the deal?
Not to worry, Jim Messina, deputy White House chief of staff, told the lobbyists, according to White House officials and lobbyists briefed on the call. The White House was standing behind the deal, Mr. Messina said, capping the industry’s costs at a maximum of $155 billion over 10 years in trade for its political support. Some Democrats and industry lobbyists now argue that, in negotiating deals through Mr. Baucus’s panel with powerful health care interests, the White House was tacitly signaling as early as last spring that it might end up accepting something more modest than the government insurer the president has said he prefers.
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Is it too late?
Was there ever any hope?