Lawmakers Begin Effort to Combine Health Care Bills

WASHINGTON (AP) - As Senate leaders start the task of combining two health care measures that have come out of committees -- and producing one that can get the necessary votes -- a second Republican is signaling that she may be able to support it.

Susan Collins of Maine is joining her home-state GOP colleague Olympia Snowe in endorsing the goals of the legislation.

Meanwhile, the White House sent some top officials to Capitol Hill today, to talk about how to combine the two health care reform bills.

Although both measures seek to provide all Americans with access to affordable health insurance, they take very different approaches. For one thing, they differ on whether there should be a government-run insurance option.

The only Republican to vote for the Finance Committee's health care bill says she opposes a government-run health insurance option, unless private insurers fail to do their part.

Olympia Snowe says the private insurance market has to offer health coverage that's more widely accessible and affordable. If it doesn't deliver, she says, she could support a public option that would kick in as a backup plan.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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