Kennedy Leading Effort To Pass Health Care Reform by August
Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chair Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and a "core group" of five other committee members "will intensify their efforts in coming weeks to ready universal health care legislation for early summer," CongressDaily reports.
Kennedy's drafting group includes Senate HELP Committee ranking member Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) and committee members Sens. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) and one of three other senators -- Sens. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) or Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), who previously were named to working groups focusing on insurance coverage, prevention and quality improvements, respectively.
Kennedy's staff has been holding stakeholder meetings with a group of about 20 interest groups, and members and aides from the Senate HELP Committee and the Senate Finance Committee have been holding joint and separate meetings to discuss reform.
Kennedy's drafting group is scheduled to meet up to three times weekly over the next two-and-a-half months and hopes to have legislation ready for mark up by early summer, according to a source familiar with the talks.
Kennedy and Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.), who also wants to bring health reform legislation to the floor before the August recess, have said they would work together on a health care overhaul, but the lawmakers "are keeping their committees on largely parallel tracks based on their jurisdictions and are not crossing over to work on a single bill," CongressDaily reports.
Eventually, the lawmakers would like a single bipartisan bill for full Senate consideration (Edney, CongressDaily, 3/17).
Wal-Mart a Player in Reform
Wal-Mart officials have been meeting with congressional leaders since last summer to discuss the in-house efforts they have made to improve health care, as a way to ensure the company's voice is heard when crafting health care reform legislation, Politico reports.
Linda Dillman, Wal-Mart's executive vice president of benefits, said, "We're willing to take a stand independently and not just do it through our associations."
The company also is pushing for greater use of electronic health records as part of its health care reform campaign (Frates, Politico, 3/17).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.