The health care bill is being held up by six "centrist" senators who meet daily to put together a bill that would have "broad bipartisan agreement"; as opposed to a bill that would, you know, reform health care.

David M. Herszenhorn and Robert Pear write in the New York Times:

The fate of the health care overhaul largely rests on the shoulders of six senators who since June 17 have gathered "" often twice a day, and for many hours at a stretch "" in a conference room with burnt sienna walls, in the office of the Senate Finance Committee chairman, Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana.

President Obama and Congressional leaders agree that if a bipartisan deal can be forged on health care, it will emerge from this conference room, with a huge map of Montana on one wall and photos of Mike Mansfield, the Montanan who was the longest-serving Senate majority leader, on the other.

The battle over health care is all but paralyzed as everyone awaits the outcome of their talks.

Why this little scenario needs to change, right now:

Already, the group of six has tossed aside the idea of a government-run insurance plan that would compete with private insurers, which the president supports but Republicans said was a deal-breaker.

Instead, they are proposing a network of private, nonprofit cooperatives.

They have also dismissed the House Democratic plan to pay for the bill's roughly $1 trillion, 10-year cost partly with an income surtax on high earners.

The three Republicans have insisted that any new taxes come from within the health care arena. As one option, Democrats have proposed taxing high-end insurance plans with values exceeding $25,000.

The Senate group also seems prepared to drop a requirement, included in other versions of the legislation, that employers offer coverage to their workers. "

"In the House, centrist Democrats have temporarily stalled the health care bill, many lawmakers want to see what Mr. Baucus's group produces before voting on tax increases in the House bill.

I read this first thing this morning, and I cannot tell you how sick I feel. That the lives of Americans rest with this corrupt little crew "" at least some of them are essentially sponsored by Big Pharma and other parts of the medical-industrial complex, who are major campaign contributors "" is beyond outrageous. It is the utter failure of American democracy in microcosm.

My favorite quote:

"If this is the only bill with bipartisan support," Ms. Snowe said, "that will really resonate. It could be the linchpin for broad bipartisan agreement."

And we need broad bipartisan agreement so much more than we need health care.

These people need to hear from us:

Senator Max Baucus, Montana, Democrat

* Washington Office: 511 Hart Senate Office Bldg. Washington, D.C. 20510 (202) 224-2651(Office) (202) 224-9412 (Fax) * Other office locations, with phone numbers * Email form available on Original Article

Senator Jeff Bingaman, New Mexico, Democrat * Washington Office: 703 Hart Senate Office Building Washington, DC 20510 Phone: (202) 224-5521 TDD: (202) 224-1792 Tollfree (in NM): 1-800-443-8658 * Links to state office addresses/phone numbers on this page * Email form available on Original Article

Senator Kent Conrad, North Dakota, Democrat * Washington Office: 530 Hart Senate Office Building United States Senate Washington, DC 20510-3403 Phone: (202) 224-2043 Fax: (202) 224-7776 * Email form available on Original Article * State offices and all other contact information * Also, a toll-free number: 1-800-223-4457

Senator Michael B. Enzi, Wyoming, Republican * Washington Office: 379A Senate Russell Office Building Washington, DC 20510 Main: (202) 224-3424 Fax: (202) 228-0359 Toll free: (888) 250-1879 * All office locations * Email form available on Original Article

Senator Charles E. Grassley, Iowa, Republican * Washington Office: 135 Hart Senate Office Building Washington, DC 20510-1501 (202) 224-3744 (O) (202) 224-6020 (F) * State offices * Email form available on Original Article

Senator Olympia Snowe, Maine, Republican * Washington Office: 154 Russell Senate Office Building Washington, DC 20510 Phone: (202) 224-5344 Toll Free: (800) 432-1599 Fax: (202) 224-1946 * District offices * Email form available on Original Article

Also: The White House, so you can tell President Obama to veto any bill that doesn't contain the public option: * 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW Washington, DC 20500-0004 * Phone Numbers Comments: 202-456-1111 Switchboard: 202-456-1414 FAX: 202-456-2461 Comments: 202-456-6213 * Email form available on Original Article