Bipartisan Senate group asks for more time on health bill

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A bipartisan group of six senators wrote Senate Democratic and Republican leaders on Monday seeking more time to come up with healthcare overhaul legislation both parties could support.

“There is much heavy lifting ahead,” they wrote, saying the overhaul plan should neither increase the national debt nor hurt those who already have health insurance.

“We support the efforts of (Senate) Finance Committee members to produce a bipartisan bill, despite calls from both sides of the aisle to rush forward or delay indefinitely,” they said.

“While we are committed to providing relief for American families as quickly as possible, we believe taking additional time to achieve a bipartisan result is critical for legislation that affects 17 percent of our economy and every individual in the U.S.,” the letter said.

The Finance Committee leaders were to meet on Monday continuing their discussions of ways to pay for the estimated $1 trillion 10-year cost of the legislation.

Finance committee members Democrat Ron Wyden and Republican Olympia Snowe signed the letter, as did Democrats Ben Nelson and Mary Landrieu, Republican Susan Collins and Independent Joe Lieberman.

Reporting by Jackie Frank