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Health Care Reform

NATIONAL
December 4, 2009 | By Noam N. Levey
After days of delay, Senate Democrats pushed ahead Thursday with their drive to pass a healthcare bill by Christmas, approving the first amendment to their giant bill: a measure to expand women's access to preventive services such as mammograms. The proposal by Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), which passed on a largely party-line 61-39 vote, would authorize the federal government to require insurers to cover women's preventive care and screenings without co-payments. The amendment is expected to cost about $940 million over 10 years.
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NATIONAL
December 2, 2009 | By Noam N. Levey
Senate Democrats had to delay votes on the first set of amendments to the healthcare bill Tuesday in the face of stiff Republican opposition, underscoring the fiercely partisan floor debate and threatening the tight timeline for passage. Party leaders, scrambling to pass a bill by Christmas, had hoped to approve a proposal to expand access to mammograms and other preventive services. Instead, lawmakers spent much of Tuesday tussling over the bill's potential impact on Medicare. Democratic leaders propose to offset the cost of expanding insurance coverage to some 31 million people in part by cutting future Medicare payments to hospitals, nursing homes and other providers.
NATIONAL
December 1, 2009 | By Janet Hook
After almost a year of maneuvering over policies and politics, the Senate on Monday officially began debate on the landmark legislation to overhaul the nation's healthcare system, but it remained uncertain how long the deliberations would last or how much the bill would change before it comes to a vote. With Republicans united in opposition and conservative Democrats and the Senate's two independents continuing to express reservations, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) faced a daunting challenge in building the filibuster-proof majority needed for passage.
NATIONAL
November 23, 2009 | By Julian E. Barnes
Only a day after Senate Democrats voted to move into a historic debate on overhauling the nation's healthcare system, key centrists made it clear Sunday that the party was still a long way from delivering on its promise to provide near-universal insurance coverage and contain medical costs. Faced with the prospect of Republican filibusters, Democratic leaders must deliver the same kind of total unity they managed to achieve Saturday, when they voted to begin debate. Every Democratic senator, plus the two independents who caucus with them, supported the key procedural motion.
NATIONAL
November 22, 2009 | By James Oliphant and Kim Geiger
Some reader questions about the healthcare legislation in Congress: If the Senate bill is estimated to cost $ 848 billion over the next decade, how can Democrats say it will cut the federal budget deficit by $130 billion? The Congressional Budget Office says that the government will take in more in revenues from taxes and fees -- and save money by trimming the fat out of Medicare -- than it will spend extending health coverage to more Americans. Under the Senate plan, a tax on high-cost insurance plans is expected to generate about $150 billion over the next decade.
NATIONAL
November 21, 2009 | By Noam N. Levey
After negotiating critical last-minute commitments, Senate Democratic leaders on Friday stood on the verge of achieving the necessary 60 votes to begin debate on the most expansive healthcare legislation to go before the Senate in nearly half a century. Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson, who had been among three Democratic holdouts, announced that he would back an all-important procedural vote set for today that would allow the chamber to take up the wide-ranging bill unveiled this week by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.
NATIONAL
November 20, 2009 | By Janet Hook
Amid all of the uncertainties about how healthcare legislation would affect each American, one thing is clear: The more affluent would pay higher taxes. Embracing the progressive -- and sometimes politically risky -- principle that the cost of carrying out public policies should fall to the well-off more than the disadvantaged, both the House and Senate bills would place new taxes on the wealthy to help pay for expanded insurance coverage. But the bills differ on who counts as rich and how much they would pay. Under the House bill, couples with more than $1 million in income would pay an additional surtax of as much as 5.4%.
NATIONAL
November 16, 2009 | By Kim Geiger and James Oliphant
Some reader questions about the proposed healthcare legislation in Congress: Will abortions be covered by the legislation as it stands now? The House healthcare bill passed this month includes a provision that would bar the government-run insurance plan (the "public option") and all private insurance plans that receive federal dollars from covering abortion services. Employers can offer abortion coverage under their benefits packages. The Senate is considering similar provisions, but has not decided on specific language.
NATIONAL
November 6, 2009 | Janet Hook and Noam N. Levey
With a historic House vote on a $1-trillion healthcare bill barely 48 hours away, battle lines are hardening as lobbying groups for seniors and doctors endorse the legislation, while thousands of protesters swarmed Capitol Hill to oppose it. "Kill the bill! Kill the bill!" chanted conservative and small-government advocates on Thursday, some having traveled on short notice from as far as California and Texas to protest what they saw as tantamount to socialized medicine. "No Marx.
NATIONAL
November 4, 2009 | James Oliphant
House Democratic leaders, while insisting the finish line is in sight on their overhaul of the nation's healthcare system, have hit a last-minute snag over the abortion issue. Senate Democratic leaders, meanwhile, are continuing to have problems winning over moderates in their own party -- raising the possibility that the climactic votes on healthcare might be pushed into next year. The delays in both houses reflect the fact that even though Democrats hold solid majorities, significant divisions exist below the surface, making consensus-building a delicate task at best.
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