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Health May Go On Fast Track

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Democratic congressional leaders have come out with a 2010 budget resolution conference agreement that includes health reform and estate tax provisions.

Democrats and Republicans have posted separate texts and analyses of the 2010 budget resolution agreement on the Senate Budget Committee website, at //

The conference agreement resolves differences between the Senate version, S. Con. Res. 13, and the House version, H.Con. Res. 85.

Here is a “side by side” comparison posted by the Republican members of the Senate Budget Committee.

Congress has agreed to handle health reform measures through the ordinary legislative process until Oct. 15, officials say. If no legislation passes by that date, Congress may consider health reform through the budget reconciliation process.

Supporters of a bill usually need to get the cooperation of 60 senators to get the bill to the Senate floor. When Congress includes a measure in the budget reconciliation process, supporters need just 51 votes in the Senate.

Robelynn Abadie, president of the Association of Health Insurance Advisors, Falls Church, Va., says she is disappointed that health reform could end up becoming part of the budget reconciliation process but welcomes the decision to let lawmakers try to craft a bipartisan health reform plan through the ordinary legislative process until October:

“A health care bill written entirely by Democrats would almost certainly create a new public health insurance program,” Abadie warned.

Continuing with bipartisan efforts offers the best chance of coming up with “an agreement on health care that will stand the test of time,” says John Greene, a vice president at the National Association of Health Underwriters, Arlington, Va.

“Reconciliation would make it difficult to achieve bipartisan health care reform that addresses the core issues of cost, access, and quality together,” says Robert Zirkelbach, a spokesman for America’s Health Insurance Plans, Washington.


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