Odds of Meeting August Deadline on Health Care Reform Appear Slim
It is "much less likely" that Congress will complete work on health care reform legislation before lawmakers leave for August recess, CQ Today reports (Armstrong, CQ Today, 7/22).
According to Time, missing the August deadline "poses a new danger" to the prospects of passing health care reform legislation. Time reports that President Obama and his administration have been adamant about moving the debate along because the August recess "would give opponents ample opportunity to pounce" while members of Congress are on recess (Tumulty, Time, 7/23).
According to CQ Today, there are numerous areas of contention before a final reform bill can be worked out in either chamber.
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) recently announced that he had reached an agreement with the Blue Dogs to have his committee wait for Congressional Budget Office scoring before proceeding with a committee markup.
However, because those estimates "could take some time," some are speculating that the committee "is nowhere near ready to move the bill this week," according to CQ Today (CQ Today, 7/22).
Another provision that has garnered attention is a proposal to impose a surtax on higher-income individuals.
Some lawmakers have raised concerns about a plan to establish an outside commission to cut health care costs.
Waxman said, "The administration feels that this is a game changer that will hold down cost," adding, "We thought that holding down costs was just what we needed. ... It allows us to say we have done everything we can in the bill to hold down costs of health care in the future."
However, House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Chair Pete Stark (D-Calif.) called the proposal "stupid ... at best," adding that the idea is "unworkable, childish, idiotic. I think that covers it" (Budoff Brown/O'Connor, Politico, 7/22).
Other contentious issues include the public plan option, employer mandates and proposals to reduce health care costs (Time, 7/23).
Lawmakers have discussed a proposal to replace health insurance exchanges with health coverage cooperatives.Some lawmakers also have expressed concern that proposed legislation could inadvertently cause some individuals to lose their existing coverage, would raise taxes and would cost too much (Herszenhorn/Pear, New York Times, 7/23). 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.