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10 House Democrats open to backing health care reform

WASHINGTON - Ten House Democrats indicated in an Associated Press survey yesterday they have not ruled out switching their "no" votes to "yes" on President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, brightening the party's hopes in the face of unyielding Republican opposition.

The White House tried to smooth the way for them, showing its openness to more changes in the landmark legislation and making a point of saying the administration is not using parliamentary tricks or loopholes to find the needed support.

Democratic leaders have strongly signaled they will use the budget reconciliation process to try to push part of the package through the Senate. That move would require 51 votes and prevent Republicans to talk it to death with filibusters that require 60 votes to end.

The road could be even more difficult in the House, where Speaker Nancy Pelosi is struggling to secure enough Democratic votes for approval, thus the effort to attract former foes.

The White House said Obama will outline his final "way forward" in a Washington speech Wednesday, and he is expected to embrace a handful of Republican ideas for making health care more efficient.

Few in Washington think those gestures will persuade even a single House or Senate Republican to embrace the legislation.

But they could give wavering Democrats political cover by showing the party has been willing to compromise. That would be some defense against possible campaign accusations this fall that they rammed the bill through with no regard for other views.

The proposal would impose new restrictions on insurance companies and order health insurance coverage for as many as 30 million Americans who now lack it, among many other changes.

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