DENVER - With the moment of truth at hand for the Senate's health-care bill, U.S. Sen. Mark Udall is trying to get two
amendments added he says would help rural areas.
Also Thursday, Udall's fellow Colorado Democrat, Michael Bennet, was taking heat from an opponent about the
compromise Democrats reached this week.
Thursday was the last day for senators to request amendments to the health-care package Democrats will try to pass
through the Senate, although it's possible some amendments could be added in debate on the Senate floor next week.
We're really getting down to the final act in this long effort," Udall said.
Udall's amendments would set up a training program to recruit doctors from rural areas to attend medical school, then
send them back to their hometowns. Most rural counties in Colorado have doctor shortages, Udall said.
His second amendment would set aside for rural areas a portion of the $10 billion in grants for groups that promote
We just have to do better for rural America," Udall said.
Udall has been lobbying Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to include his amendments in the final package
Reid will send to the Senate.
Reid will release the final bill once the Congressional Budget Office has figured out how much it will cost or save.
Udall does not yet know if his ideas will make the final cut. If the rural doctors plan is included, Congress would
have to find $20 million later to fund it.
Meanwhile, Andrew Roman-off, who is challenging Bennet in the Democratic primary, criticized the deal on the final
package, which reportedly abandons the government-run public option" for people without insurance.
When Washington cuts deals with the drug lobby and caves in to the insurance industry, ordinary Americans lose out,"
Romanoff said in an e-mail. We deserve better. We deserve a senator who will stand up to the special interests and
turn down their corporate cash."
Democrats need all 60 of their votes to overcome a Republican filibuster and pass the health-care bill, something
Bennet campaign manager Craig Hughes said Thursday.
Does this mean that Andrew Romanoff would be the vote that brings down health-care reform?" Hughes said.
While Bennet has backed the public option, he will support any bill that achieves the same goals, Hughes said.
The key is: Is this a bill that reduces cost, increases competition and doesn't add one dime to the deficit? That's
what we're looking for," Hughes said.
Udall also defended the deal, saying he would vote for any bill that cuts costs and increases competition in health
insurance, which was the point of the public option. The public plan would have been available to only about 1
percent of the marketplace, he said.
Romanoff has run a low-profile campaign, and Thursday's e-mail was one of the first direct shots he has taken at