KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

House Democratic Leaders Pushing For Vote On Health Reform

Speaker Nancy Pelosi could hold a vote on the final House of Representatives health care reform legislation this week.

The Hill: The likely day for a vote is Thursday, because this would allow Pelosi to keep her pledge to allow members three days to study the final legislation. "But it's possible Pelosi won't have the votes by Thursday, and leaders have already warned their caucus that they could be working all weekend and into next week to win a vote on President Barack Obama's top domestic priority. ... House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said (last) Thursday that while the Rules Committee has yet to meet to consider the structure for the healthcare bill debate, he expected a single 'manager's amendment' to be introduced on Monday. Such a manager's amendment would serve as the vehicle for those last-minute deals negotiated to guarantee additional votes." Many are not seeing much opportunity for amendments to be offered on the floor, The Hill reports.

Complicating efforts are the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Democrats who have asked the Congressional Budget Office for an explanation of its assertion that the bill is will reduce the deficit over time and the Progressive Caucus, who "may demand an up-or-down vote on a 'robust' public option" - with rates tied to Medicare (Allen and Soraghan, 11/2).

Roll Call reports on other issues that have to be worked out this week, including the bill's treatment of abortion services and immigration health care services. "The abortion dispute centers on whether new national insurance plans will cover abortions. Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) said the House bill already prohibits the use of taxpayer funding for abortions and requires insurance companies to keep federal subsidies separate from funding for abortions." Others want a more explicit prohibition of abortion in the bills (Newmyer and Dennis, 11/2). 

Meanwhile, Politico reports that "The quest to correct racial disparities in health care - differences in the level and quality of treatment between whites and minorities - hasn't been a focus of the health reform debate. But advocates are hoping to use the nearly trillion-dollar effort to remake the U.S. health care system to fix some of the inequities, by sending billions in federal aid to boost community hospitals, local clinics and other programs."  Some bills, like the House and Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee bills have several programs aimed at closing the gaps but the Senate Finance Committee bill has few provisions addressing disparities (Henderson, 11/2).

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