President Obama has outlined his final version of a health care bill and has urged Congress to bring the plan to a conclusive vote within the next few weeks. The President said his nearly $1 trillion proposal is a compromise plan that combines the best ideas of both Democrats and Republicans.
The arguments both for and against health care reform have not changed for either political party. Top Republicans have repeatedly said Obama's proposal amounts to a government takeover of the private health care system that will do little to control spiraling medical inflation. In recent weeks, they have reiterated their calls for the President to scrap his plan and start over.
The President's proposal includes significant reductions in Medicare spending, in part through changes in payments made under the Medicare Advantage program. It does not include a government-run public health insurance option but it does include Medicaid reimbursement increases to doctors in certain states, and supports language ensuring certain high-deductible health plans can be offered in the health exchange.
It is likely the President's refurbished health care plan will be considered using rules of reconciliation. Those rules would permit changes in the health care legislation to be passed by the Senate with only 51 votes. Democratic leaders say the legislation could gain enough support for passage in both chambers, most likely through expedited budget reconciliation procedures.
Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin, D-Ill., says Democrats are coming to closure on revised language that was being written jointly by House and Senate lawmakers and White House officials. But, uncertainties remain as changes to one part of the bill could affect other aspects of the legislation.
Democratic leaders hope to send legislative language to the Congressional Budget Office for a cost estimate, perhaps before the end of the week. Durbin admitted that report could force more changes in the bill. Durbin said the Senate would provide some kind of convincing gesture aimed at reassuring anxious House Democrats that the Senate would act on the proposal once it passes the House, but that the House likely would have to act first.