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Congressional Health Reform – an NRHA Government Affairs Update

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee last week finished its fourteen day hearing to markup its health reform legislation, the Affordable Health Choices Act. With a final party line vote of 13 Democrats to 10 Republicans, the bill passed through Committee and health reform is one step closer to becoming a reality. That was one step, however, out of many…

The Senate Finance Committee, also with health reform jurisdiction, has yet to release even a draft of its version of the bill, but has indicated its intention to do so sometime this week. Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) is still working to bring what he has promised to be a bipartisan bill before the Committee, and remains dedicated to doing so.

On the other side of the Capitol, the leadership of the three House Committees with health reform jurisdiction, Energy and Commerce, Ways and Means and Education and Labor, formed a “Tri-Committee” which released a single version of their bill to be marked up. Ways and Means and Education and Labor passed the bill last week without accepting amendments, and Energy and Commerce continued their markup yesterday. Chairman Waxman, just before finishing the hearing at 1 am last night, announced that the markup originally scheduled for today (July 21) would be canceled in order to discuss the bill with Committee members who may not be supporting it. Namely, the Committee members who are part of the House Blue Dog Coalition, comprised of fiscally conservative Democrats, who say they cannot support the bill in its current form.

So…with these hiccups in the House, and the Senate Finance Committee, the President’s original goal for the House and Senate to have a single bill passed and ready for a conference committee by August recess, and for the conference to bill to be finalized and ready for his desk by October, is looking less likely. Still, though, the President remains optimistic, as does House and Senate leadership, so we will wait to see what happens this week.

For more information, click on the links below:

Senate HELP Committee

NRHA Letter to Senate HELP Committee

Watch Each Day’s Markup Proceedings

Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 Summary

Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 full text

House Tri-Committee:

NRHA Bill Summary

NRHA Letter to the House

House Energy and Commerce Committee markup proceedings

House Ways and Means Committee markup

House Education and Labor Markup proceedings

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