Group of 24 experts meet to discuss proposals for uninsured

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Healthcare and senior care advocates are among the 24 experts who have been meeting secretly for months to seek a consensus on proposals covering the nation's uninsured.

Top executives from AARP, the American Medical Association, the National Governors Association and the Service Employees International Union, are among the participants, The New York Times reported. Participants, who represent groups both liberal and conservative, said they are making progress trying to overcome the ideological barriers that have hurt action on the problem for eight years.

Since October of last year, the group, which has yet to endorse any one plan, has met and discussed a range of options including tax incentives for the purchase of insurance, changes in Medicaid and the creation of state-level insurance purchasing pools. The group hopes by the end of this year to agree on proposals aimed at expanding coverage to as many people as possible in as short of time as possible, according to participants in the group.

The secrecy of the meetings is an effort by the group to insulate itself from political pressures, participants said. Nearly 45 million people in the U.S. were without health insurance in 2003, according to Census Bureau figures.