With President Obama and his Office of Health Reform offering support from the bully pulpit, House and Senate lawmakers have promised to pass health care reform legislation by the August Congressional recess. Many doubt that Congress will be able to meet this time frame, as bills are not expected to be introduced until after Memorial Day. The leading Congressional lawmakers crafting health care reform legislation, Chairman Baucus (D-MT) of the Finance Committee and Kennedy (D-MA) of the Health Committee, established a joint process that they hope will bring complementary legislation to the floor by early summer. Baucus's bill is expected to be modeled after his health care reform white paper released in November 2008, which called for mandated individual health insurance coverage, creation of a national clearinghouse for individuals to find coverage, improving health care quality, requiring employers to provide coverage to workers or pay into a fund and reforming Medicare. Kennedy and House lawmakers have yet to reveal the framework for their approaches. The big issue in health reform is really between proponents of a government sponsored insurance plan and private insurers who want to avoid a government plan. With such strong Democratic Congressional majorities, the public plan option has gained some greater political credibility. Even if a public plan option does not pass the Congress, this new political credibility may force insurers into accepting a more regulated approach than they would have otherwise.
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