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Health Care Reform

NATIONAL
December 17, 2009 | By Janet Hook
New obstacles slowed Senate action on the healthcare bill Wednesday, as the hunt for supporters narrowed to a lone Democrat -- Ben Nelson of Nebraska -- and Republican delaying tactics brought debate to a temporary standstill. But Democratic leaders made progress toward bringing their party in line and remained hopeful that they would pass the bill through the Senate by Christmas -- just barely. The effort to win Nelson's support hinges largely on abortion policy, the issue that nearly derailed action on the healthcare bill at the last minute in the House, where antiabortion Democrats insisted on tight restrictions on abortion funding under the proposed new health programs.
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BUSINESS
December 17, 2009 | Michael Hiltzik
The debate over healthcare reform is focused on such a small number of hot issues -- should there be a public option, Medicare buy-in, government-paid mental health counseling for Sen. Lieberman? -- that dozens of other questions are cruising under the radar. Here's one worth a lot more attention than it has been getting: Is Congress poised to make a big payoff to biotech firms and their venture backers by hindering the entry of a new class of generic drugs into the marketplace?
NATIONAL
December 11, 2009 | By Janet Hook and Tom Hamburger
Expanding access to low-cost prescription drugs from overseas might look like a sure winner in the effort to make healthcare more affordable. President Obama supports the idea, as do many Democrats and several Republicans. But the seemingly popular proposal brought the Senate healthcare debate to a standstill Thursday, as Democrats divided over whether they should bow to the drug industry's fierce opposition. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) temporarily halted consideration of the healthcare bill after three days of inconclusive debate on an amendment by Sens.
NATIONAL
December 7, 2009 | By Janet Hook
President Obama traveled to Capitol Hill on Sunday to rally Democrats on his signature healthcare initiative as the Senate moved closer to addressing two of the biggest land mines in the bill's path: the terms of a new public insurance option and limits on federal abortion funding. A showdown on the abortion issue is scheduled for early this week. An amendment to set stricter limits on federal funding is expected to be defeated. As for the public option, behind-the-scenes Democratic negotiations to satisfy both liberals and moderates quickened Sunday.
NATIONAL
December 6, 2009 | By Noam N. Levey
As the Senate healthcare debate stretched through the weekend, President Obama made plans to visit Capitol Hill this afternoon to meet with Democratic lawmakers at a rare weekend caucus gathering. The move comes as Democratic leaders are pushing the Senate to complete work on its bill before Christmas, a deadline seen as crucial if Congress is to send the president healthcare legislation by the end of January. A month ago, Obama visited the Capitol to rally House Democrats just before they voted to pass their version of the overhaul, which the president has made a cornerstone of his domestic agenda.
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.
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.
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