Health reform written behind closed doors

A White House official did not return a request for comment Friday.

Senate Democrats involved in the conversations defended their process. After the discussions in Mr. Reid’s office, one of the lawmakers or spokesmen have given reporters a broad outline of what topics were discussed. Last week, they talked about the employer mandate and the public option.

Mr. Dodd, who led the health bill through the HELP Committee as a stand-in for then-ailing Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, defended the process.

“The suggestion, somehow, that this is being done otherwise is just blatantly false and a distraction from what, really, we need to be talking about, and that is what’s in these bills, what are we trying to achieve?” he said.

The Finance Committee posted its overhaul legislation and proposed amendments on its Web site, and its mark-up sessions were aired on C-SPAN and the Internet.

“The Finance Committee, the HELP Committee, there were countless hearings, all public, all in the open,” Mr. Baucus, chairman of the Finance Committee, told reporters.

“I have not been involved in such an open and transparent process as this, and I’m very, very proud that we’ve done it,” Mr. Baucus said. “We embarked on this process because it’s the right thing to do, but also to help give senators the comfort that we had a good idea of what it is that we’re doing.”

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