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Minnesota lawmakers begin examining Obama’s new health care plan

WASHINGTON, D.C. —  The White House released a summary of President Obama’s health care reform proposal this morning. White House advisers said the plan hews toward one the Senate passed on Christmas Eve, but with changes designed to “bridge the gap” between the House and Senate plans.

Minnesota lawmakers have just begun poring through the proposal, which was released at 9 a.m. Central and is intended to be a jumping-off point for discussions, White House advisers said.

There is no public option in the plan, though it does establish a health insurance exchange.

One provision that stands out for Minnesota is that the White House would end a tax credit for “black liquor,” a wood byproduct produced by paper mills. Black liquor can be used as a biofuel, and thus could be claimed under a tax incentive designed to increase the production of cellulosic biofuels.

Doing away with that credit would save the federal government an estimated $24 billion over the next 10 years.

The release comes in advance of a bipartisan summit Thursday, intended to attempt to find a consensus on health care reform. Rep. John Kline was invited to attend, and after some initial hesitation has now committed to attend.

Asked today if Kline would go to the summit, Kline spokesman Troy Young e-mailed: “The Congressman plans to attend.”

White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer said it’s now time for Republicans to agree on a plan and come to the negotiating table.

“It is our hope that the Republicans will come together around their plan and post it online before the meeting, “Pfeiffer said. “The president is coming to this meeting with an open mind, and his hope is that the Republicans do too.”

Derek Wallbank is MinnPost’s Washington, D.C., correspondent and can be reached at wallbank[at]minnpost[dot]com.

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