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Focus of health care bill may be changing, officials signal

Washington (CNN)
Democratic efforts to pass a health care bill have stalled a bit, and the immediate focus may be shifting toward health insurance reform instead of quickly trying to pass a comprehensive bill, White House officials signaled Sunday.

Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, told CNN's "State of the Union" that passing a health care bill was "still inside the five-yard line." His comment pulled back the assessment several weeks ago by David Axelrod, the senior adviser to President Obama, that the bill was on the one-yard line, which in football would mean it was close to passing.

On the NBC program "Meet the Press" on Sunday, Axelrod referred to the issue as health insurance reform when talking about next steps.

"The American people aren't saying let's walk away from health insurance reform," Axelrod said, citing problems such as rising costs, people denied health coverage for pre-existing conditions, and people losing coverage when they become seriously ill.

Asked about a comment by Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana that the health care bill was on life support, Axelrod said, "I hope that's not the case" for tens of millions of Americans who lack health coverage or are otherwise "disadvantaged" in their relationship with insurance companies.


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