The House Budget Committee is expected to begin marking up the health care reform reconciliation bill on Monday, beginning the next step in the legislative process to get a final health care reform bill sent to the President. Democrats are still awaiting a cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office, which is expected to be released at some point this weekend.
The reconciliation bill will contain changes to the Senate bill needed to get the support of House Democrats. Passing an amended bill under reconciliation rules will allow the Senate to consider and pass the changes under special rules requiring a simple majority to pass rather than a 60-vote majority. Congressional leaders hope to send a final bill to President Obama no later than the Easter Congressional recess.
The two key differences between the House and Senate bills are the public option and pay-fors. The House bill would create a government-sponsored insurance plan (i.e., a public option), but the Senate bill is silent on this point. How to finance the health care expansion is also a contentious issue. House members refused to consider the so-called Cadillac tax (i.e., a tax on expensive insurance plans) but the Senate has taken the opposite approach to financing and included a wealth surtax (the so-called millionaires’ tax) rather than including a Cadillac tax. The House bill also has stricter language against funding for abortion.
The Senate passed their bill on Christmas Eve by a vote of 69-39. And the House passed their bill on Nov. 7, 2009 by a vote of 220-215.
C3 has been closely following the various health reform proposals introduced in Congress because access to care is critical to preventing, treating and beating colorectal cancer. Read more about the provisions in the House-passed and Senate-passed bills that will affect colorectal cancer patients.