Senate: Final Healthcare Reform Vote May Come in 2010

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is warning that the healthcare reform bill may not pass until after the New Year.  According to Reid, debate in the Senate may not begin until December, pushing back the timeline on legislation that tops President Barack Obama’s domestic agenda.

Meanwhile, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) says that the House of Representatives is on a faster track and that a vote could come soon on a bill to extend coverage to people who lack healthcare insurance, ban industry practices such as denying coverage of pre-existing conditions and put the brakes on medical spending.  The $1.2 trillion, 10-year bill would expand coverage to an estimated 96 percent of all Americans.  Additionally, the House bill includes a public option intended to put pressure on private insurers to make coverage more affordable for all.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) currently is working on a cost estimate for the draft bill that Reid submitted recently.  White House spokesman Dan Pfeiffer reacted to the news by saying “The House plans to vote on the health reform bill within days.  Senator Reid has committed to the president that as soon as the Senate has the information back from the CBO they will move expeditiously to pass health reform.”

A delay past the year-end timetable would push off healthcare reform to a mid-term election year and raise questions about the Democrats’ ability to deliver legislation that the Obama administration has made a priority.

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