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Health Care Reform

NATIONAL
January 22, 2010 | By Noam N. Levey
Even as congressional Democrats began examining ways to scale back their far-reaching health legislation, a wave of consumer groups, patient advocates and doctors on Thursday called on Democrats not to abandon the comprehensive health overhaul they've worked so long to pass. "The legislation passed by the House and Senate would broaden access to quality, affordable healthcare to tens of millions of people who are currently uninsured or underinsured," wrote leaders of AARP, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Consumers Union, Families USA and Service Employees International Union.
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NATIONAL
January 21, 2010 | By Noam N. Levey and Janet Hook
President Obama and congressional Democrats are rethinking their healthcare strategy in the wake of a Republican victory in the Massachusetts Senate race, giving serious consideration to abandoning the comprehensive approach in favor of incremental steps that might salvage key elements of the package. Now without a filibuster-proof Senate majority, which was lost in the GOP victory, some Democrats believe they could win Republican support for limited changes to the healthcare system, including restrictions on insurance companies and new initiatives to restrain costs.
NATIONAL
January 19, 2010 | By Noam N. Levey
White House officials and Democratic congressional leaders are exploring whether to finish their healthcare overhaul without further Senate action in case a Republican victory today in the Massachusetts Senate race deprives them of a filibuster-proof majority. Under a strategy that carries major political risks, House Democrats would be called on to approve the version that cleared the Senate, allowing the bill to go directly to President Obama for his signature. The move would end negotiations over how to reconcile provisions on which the two chambers differ.
NATIONAL
January 19, 2010 | By Tom Hamburger and James Oliphant
Last year, as Democrats launched their healthcare drive, the nation's trial lawyers thought they were in trouble. Critics, especially Republicans and doctors, had long complained that the medical malpractice system showered huge fees on attorneys, did little for ordinary Americans and added billions of dollars in costs. With Democratic strategists looking for ways to woo Republican support for the overall healthcare bill, changes in so-called tort law seemed likely. Even President Obama in a speech to the American Medical Assn.
NATIONAL
January 17, 2010 | By Kim Geiger
A look at some reader questions on insurance options that would be available under the House and Senate healthcare bills: My family's current policy costs more than $400 per month, which is not affordable for us. Will we be able to afford insurance under the healthcare bills? If you get your insurance through your employer, the bills would require that your share of the premiums not exceed a certain amount of your income -- 9.8% under the Senate plan, and 12% under the House proposal.
NATIONAL
January 14, 2010 | By Janet Hook and Noam N. Levey
Democratic congressional leaders are considering a new strategy to help finance their ambitious healthcare plan -- applying the Medicare payroll tax not just to wages but to capital gains, dividends and other forms of unearned income. The idea, discussed Wednesday in a marathon meeting at the White House, could placate labor leaders who bitterly oppose President Obama's plan to tax high-end insurance policies that cover many union members. It could also help shore up Medicare's shaky finances, and the burden of the new tax would fall primarily on affluent Americans, not the beleaguered middle class.
NATIONAL
January 13, 2010 | By Noam N. Levey and Janet Hook
Facing an electorate more worried about jobs and the economy than healthcare, House and Senate Democrats have stepped up efforts to get a compromise bill to President Obama by the end of the month. "Healthcare: Get it over with," is the message Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) said she got from voters in her economically ravaged district over the holiday recess. "Do it, but fix what's wrong with the bigger picture here." On Tuesday, House leaders gathered to discuss potential changes to the bill.
NATIONAL
January 12, 2010 | By Peter Nicholas
Underscoring a rift in the Democratic political coalition, national labor leaders met with President Obama on Monday and raised objections to a proposed tax that they said would harm union members and cause a backlash in the November midterm election. Obama has come out in favor of the "Cadillac tax" that is part of the healthcare bill passed by the Senate. The tax, meant to help finance the healthcare overhaul, would apply to the most expensive insurance plans. The House has an alternative: a new surtax on single taxpayers making more than $500,000 a year and couples earning more than $1 million.
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