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Health Care Reform

September 29, 2009 | Janet Hook
Congressional Democrats this week will push toward showdowns on two of the toughest issues in the healthcare debate: whether to create a government alternative to private insurance, and how to pay the approximately $1-trillion cost of the overhaul. Neither issue will be settled until after the House and Senate have voted on complete bills and start negotiating the final legislation. But this week's intensive effort will provide the starkest display yet of the political fault lines the party faces as lawmakers search for a path to agreement.
September 20, 2009 | Kim Geiger and James Oliphant
Here are some readers' questions on the national healthcare debate: People have been telling me that payment for President Obama's healthcare plan will come from the Medicare Advantage funds. Is this true? Medicare Advantage, a private insurance plan that covers a quarter of Medicare recipients, is a target of Democratic budget-cutters. Obama has characterized the program, which costs the government $17 billion annually, as a wasteful bonanza for private insurers. The White House maintains that enrollees of Medicare Advantage would see no changes in services as a result of any cuts.
September 16, 2009 | Peter Wallsten
Trying to quell a conservative uproar over his healthcare agenda, President Obama has proposed barring illegal immigrants from a possible government-arranged health insurance marketplace -- even if the immigrants pay with their own money. The move has surprised some of Obama's fellow Democrats and infuriated immigrant advocates, who on Tuesday attacked the position as political pandering and bad policy. The White House revealed its stance Friday, after a renewed debate over illegal immigration that was triggered when Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.
September 16, 2009 | Janet Hook and Peter Nicholas
Senate Democrats' most concerted quest for a bipartisan compromise on healthcare collapsed Tuesday as finance committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) announced he would move ahead with his long-delayed proposals without any guarantee of Republican support. Baucus also took a blow from his own party's left, as a senior Senate Democrat declared that too many concessions had been made and that he would not support the emerging bill because it did not include a public insurance option.
September 14, 2009 | Noam N. Levey
President Obama on Sunday dismissed the uproar over Rep. Joe Wilson's heckling during the president's Wednesday speech to a joint session of Congress, suggesting it was only a distraction -- even as some members of Obama's party threatened to punish the South Carolina Republican. "This is part of what happens. I mean, it becomes a big circus instead of us focusing on healthcare," Obama said in an interview on the CBS news program "60 Minutes." Obama noted that Wilson later apologized, which "I appreciated."
September 13, 2009 | James Oliphant
Here are some reader questions on the national healthcare debate: What kind of insurance do members of Congress have, and what do they pay for it? Members of Congress can buy insurance through the Federal Health Benefits Program, which is open to all federal employees. It offers a large variety of plans that can be tailored for individuals and families. There are no exclusions for preexisting medical conditions. Because of the large pool of employees covered by the program, it can encourage insurers to offer affordable premiums.
September 11, 2009 | Robin Abcarian
President Obama, a supporter of reproductive rights, forcefully reiterated in his speech to Congress this week that his healthcare plan would not lead to government funding of abortion. The trouble is, abortion foes don't believe him. They are working hard to persuade Americans that Obama is wrong -- and have even created ads that evoke "Harry and Louise," the fictional couple that helped tank the Clinton-era attempt at healthcare reform: "They won't pay for my surgery," says an elderly man sitting at a kitchen table.
September 10, 2009
Text of a letter the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy wrote to President Obama, released Wednesday: May 12, 2009 Dear Mr. President, I wanted to write a few final words to you to express my gratitude for your repeated personal kindnesses to me -- and one last time, to salute your leadership in giving our country back its future and its truth. On a personal level, you and Michelle reached out to Vicki, to our family and me in so many different ways. You helped to make these difficult months a happy time in my life.
September 7, 2009 | Janet Hook
President Obama and his congressional allies are entering the next phase of their push to overhaul healthcare with lower expectations of what can be accomplished -- but with far greater certainty that significant legislation will be enacted by the end of the year. After a long summer of raucous protests, discouraging poll numbers and unplanned tactical shifts, administration officials and Democratic leaders now are focusing on their two greatest challenges: scaling back the overall cost, and developing alternatives to the government-run insurance option that liberals have championed.
August 23, 2009 | Rong-Gong Lin II
U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) said she would refuse to vote for a healthcare reform package that did not include a provision for creating a government-run medical insurance plan that would compete with private insurers -- a statement that drew loud cheers Saturday at a town hall meeting at Los Angeles Southwest College. The statement appeared to illustrate hardening lines in the battle over healthcare reform in Congress. Waters voiced dismay with comments made by White House officials last week that have been widely perceived as backing down from the so-called public option.
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