Facing a vigorous Republican effort to repeal health reform, a member of the House Democratic leadership says his party is willing to "fine-tune" the law based on input from the GOP.


Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar, a member of the conservative Blue Dog Caucus, told ABC's "Top Line" that Democrats can find "common ground" with Republicans on ways to adjust the sweeping measure that has been a prime target of conservatives.

"There are areas that we can find common ground," Cuellar said. "But just to repeal and then start all over again -- if you talk about creating uncertainty, that will create uncertainty."

"I'll be the first one to say we ought to modify the bill, the legislation," he added. "But just to repeal and then think about what we’re going to come up with -- I don’t think that’s the right approach that the majority is taking."

Cuellar, who has represented Texas's 28th district since 2005, cited tort reform and "duplicative programs" as examples of areas where the law can be changed.

As one of their first acts in the House majority this week, Republicans scheduled a vote for Jan. 12 to fully repeal the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act signed into law last March, depicting it as a "job-killer."

Cuellar's suggestion that Republicans can help improve the reforms appears to undermine Democrats' strategy of hammering pro-repeal Republicans as pawns of the insurance industry and touting the law's benefits to consumers.

Republicans have repeatedly expressed a desire to derail the entire measure, denouncing its core components and showing little interest in working with Democrats to make it better.

The repeal effort appears poised to pass the House given its comfortable Republican majority, but is all but certain to fail in the Senate where Democrats hold a 53-47 edge. And even if it somehow squeaks by, President Barack Obama has promised to veto it.

The law bans insurance companies from discriminating against sick patients and those with pre-existing conditions, and provides federal subsidies and an individual mandate to expand coverage to 94 percent of Americans, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

The CBO reported Thursday that the GOP effort to repeal the reforms would add roughly $230 billion to the federal deficit, an awkward statistic for Republicans given their claims that the bill would bankrupt the nation.