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The Battle Of The Giant Health Bills

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When members of the U.S. House of Representatives voted 220-215 Saturday to pass H.R. 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act bill, they set the stage for a collision of mammoth health bills.

The coverage of House floor action is available here.

The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation has posted a comparison of the major congressional health proposals here.

The contenders in the Senate continue to be S. 1796, the America’s Healthy Future Act of 2009 bill, which was developed by the Senate Finance Committee under the direction of Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., and the S. 1679, the Affordable Health Choices Act bill, which was developed by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee with inspiration from the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.

House leaders created H.R. 3962 by combining separate bills developed by the House Energy and Commerce, Education and Labor, and Ways and Means committees. House Republicans said during a House Rules Committee hearing on H.R. 3962 Friday and House floor debate on the bill Saturday that, when House leaders came up with the current version of the bill, they left out many Republican amendments that were approved at the committee levels.

House Republicans proposed the Commonsense Health Care Reform and Accountability Act as an amendment to H.R. 3962. Members of the House voted 176-258 Saturday reject the CHCRAA amendment.

What could happen going forward:

– The Senate could approve a bill that is based mostly on the HELP bill, mostly on the Senate Finance Committee bill, or on a true combination of both bills.

– To win some support from Republicans, and more support from moderate and conservative Democrats, Senate leaders could put some of the Republican amendments omitted from the current version of H.R. 3962 into their combined bill. Senate leaders also could add some ideas from the CHCRAA proposal or other sources, such as previously rejected Democratic amendments, into their bill.

– Once the Senate approves its bill, and Congress could approve the House bill or the Senate bill as is, but congressional leaders probably will have a conference committee develop a compromise version of the bill. At that point, congressional leaders still could add provisions from the Republican amendments, the CHCRAA proposal, or other sources to the “conference report” version of the bill.


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