By ERICA WERNER, Associated Press Writer Erica Werner, Associated Press Writer
1 hr 14 mins ago
WASHINGTON – A final agreement nearly in hand, President Barack Obama and Democratic leaders are about to embark on one last sales job that will determine the outcome of the president's signature health care overhaul.
It will come down to a phenomenal effort by congressional leaders and the White House to win over skittish lawmakers after a year of incendiary debate, even as Obama keeps up campaign-style appearances designed to fire up public support.
A closed-door meeting in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office Wednesday evening moved congressional leaders and administration officials close to agreement on such issues as additional subsidies to help lower-income families purchase health insurance and more aid for states under the Medicaid program for low-income Americans.
Democrats still need to see a final cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office — and want to ensure it stays around $950 billion over 10 years — but they made plans to begin to read the bill to rank-and-file Democrats at a caucus meeting Thursday.
"We're going to get started," Pelosi, D-Calif., said after her meeting with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and other key officials. Some unanswered questions remain, Pelosi said, "but we're hoping that we'll get those answered over the course of the reading. It's not much."
"I'm very pleased about where we are," she said.