Economy Jumps Ahead of Health Care Reform on Congress’ Agenda
Democratic congressional leaders plan to hold off on large-scale proposals, such as overhauling the health care system, until they have completed "attempts to spark the staggering economy," the Washington Post reports (Kane/Montgomery, Washington Post, 11/9).
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) also said it is unlikely representatives will be called back for a lame-duck session to address a stimulus bill, pushing action on such a bill to 2009, CongressDaily reports (Sanchez et al., CongressDaily, 11/7).
Hoyer said, "Obviously, we're not going to do health care in the first month or two" of the next session of Congress.
The Post reports that after taking up a stimulus package, Congress expects to address smaller items that already have some bipartisan support and are expected to be easier to pass, including repealing President Bush's ban on embryonic stem cell research and increasing funding for SCHIP.
Passing legislation on such issues would help Democrats gain momentum they then could use to pass more comprehensive legislation, according to the Post.
Last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said, "Some will be discrete pieces. Some will be comprehensive. The comprehensive pieces will take longer."
The appointment of Rep. Rahm Emanuel as President-elect Barack Obama's White House chief of staff is expected to improve the chances of passing SCHIP legislation, as the program has "been a favored cause for Emanuel," the Post reports.
Kennedy, Baucus Efforts
Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chair Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) has been "laying the groundwork for comprehensive national health care legislation" and plans "an exhaustive round of hearings and legislative mark ups" to develop and pass legislation to overhaul the health care system.
The Post reports that Kennedy wants "to ensure that the process for moving the bill will be in stark contrast to the secretive task force that helped cast suspicion on the failed health-care legislation pushed early in the Clinton administration" (Washington Post, 11/9).
In addition, Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) on Wednesday will release his own overhaul plan, which he said will include provisions to strengthen the employer-based insurance system, emphasize efficiency and quality of care and promote comparative-effectiveness research.
A Friday news release from the Finance Committee said Baucus will work with members of HELP and other committees to "achieve consensus on a comprehensive reform plan" (CQ HealthBeat, 11/7).
Many Democratic fiscal conservatives have expressed concern over how "such large undertakings" would be paid for, noting the record $455 billion deficit for fiscal year 2008 (Washington Post, 11/9).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.