|12-19-2008, 08:37 AM||#1|
Join Date: Dec 2008
Lawmakers Might Not Vote On Legislation To Overhaul U.S. Health Care System Until Late 2009, 2010
Rep. Stark Says Lawmakers Might Not Vote On Legislation To Overhaul U.S. Health Care System Until Late 2009, 2010
19 Dec 2008
House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Chair Pete Stark (D-Calif.) on Wednesday said a vote on health care overhaul legislation likely would not occur during the first 100 days of the new Congress and could be put off until late 2009 or 2010, The Hill reports. Congress has several smaller health care matters to address before it can consider an overhaul, according to Stark, who spoke during a conference call sponsored by the Campaign for America's Future. However, he said that a comprehensive plan would have to be voted on by early 2010 at the latest, because waiting any longer would "put the campaign at risk of being caught up in the politics of the midterm congressional elections," The Hill reports (Young, The Hill, 12/17). Stark said that Congress likely will vote on legislation to expand SCHIP early in 2009 (CongressDaily, 12/17).
Stark also said that he would support a comprehensive health care overhaul bill only if it included a public health insurance option similar to Medicare, Dow Jones reports. He said that although Medicare is often accused of underpaying health care providers, it is the private plans that actually pay too much. According to Stark, "Medicare is paying the right amount" (Yoest, Dow Jones, 12/17).
Stark was joined on the call by Jacob Hacker, a University of California-Berkeley professor who released a report on Wednesday touting the benefits of including a public coverage option in a health care overhaul. "The core argument is that public insurance has distinct strengths and thus, offered as a choice on a level playing field with the private plans, can serve as an important benchmark for private insurance within a reformed health care framework," Hacker said. Stark and Hacker said they did not intend for a public plan to replace private insurance, but Stark said that such a situation could occur (Wayne, CQ Today, 12/17).
President-elect Barack Obama has not laid out a timetable for overhauling the U.S. health care system, but he has said repeatedly that the recession will not prevent him from launching reform efforts, according to The Hill. The Hill reports, "Key senators, for their part, are drafting the legislation that will form the basis of the upper chamber's health reform efforts, suggesting they'd like to move on reform quickly" (The Hill, 12/17).
Hacker's report is available online.
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair John Dingell (D-Mich.), who will give up his post at the end of the 110th Congress, is seeking a leading role in crafting comprehensive health care legislation and could vie for the chairmanship of the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee, currently held by Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), according to aides and lobbyists. Dingell supporters said he has the votes to win the subcommittee post when Congress reconvenes in 2009.
CongressDaily reports that committee members also are discussing how House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chair Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), who will replace Dingell on the Energy and Commerce Committee, "will advance the ambitious environmental and health care agenda he shares with the incoming Obama administration without alienating many lawmakers on the panel who backed Dingell." Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-La.), a committee member who co-chairs the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition, said, "[Waxman] expressed to me his desire to be all inclusive ... to try and write legislation that can pass not only through the House, but through the Senate and get signed by the president -- meaningful legislation -- and to allow for participation by the committee" (Friedman, CongressDaily, 12/17).
Kennedy Task Force
In related news, Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chair Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) on Monday named Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) to replace Secretary of State-designate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) as head of a committee task force focusing on health insurance reform (Adofo, CQ Today, 12/15). Clinton was named to the position by Kennedy last month, along with Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who is in charge of the prevention and public health task force, and Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), who is in charge of the task force focusing on improving quality of care. Bingaman is the only Senate Democrat to serve on both the HELP Committee and Senate Finance Committee (Rhee, "Political Intelligence," Boston Globe, 12/15).
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