Inclusion of provisions that would recognize gay families in a health care reform bill currently before Congress are in peril of being axed after Democratic leaders decided not to reconcile two versions of the bill.
The decision to move ahead with a single bill was made Tuesday night in a private meeting attended by President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, The Hill reported.
The Democratic leaders' decision to back the Senate version – narrowly approved by lawmakers on Christmas Eve – could spell doom for the gay provisions only found in the House version.
The House version approved in November includes Representative Jim McDermott's Tax Equity for Health Plan Beneficiaries Act of 2009, which alters the tax status of health benefits granted to the spouses of gay employees. Under the bill, such benefits would no longer be considered taxable income for the employee. McDermott, a Democrat from Washington, introduced the bill along with Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a ranking Republican in the House Foreign Affairs Committee, in May.