Reuters, May 23, 2011

Top congressional Republicans said on Sunday they would be open to a compromise on healthcare costs, one of the biggest stumbling blocks in a deal to get the United States' debt under control. Rep. Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House of Representatives Budget Committee, said he would "absolutely" be willing to negotiate with Democrats, who have hammered his plan to scale back government-run health plans for the poor and the elderly. With Ryan's plan headed for likely defeat in the Democratic-controlled Senate, that chamber's top Republican said it was time for "an adult conversation" on ways to keep healthcare costs under control. "Let's just stipulate that nobody is trying to throw Grandma off the cliff," Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said on "Fox News Sunday." Health reform is a top sticking point as the two sides try to hash out a budget deal that would give lawmakers political cover to back an increase in the country's borrowing authority. And as the 2012 election season gets underway, it is shaping up to be a top campaign issue as well.

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