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As Health Reform Summit Looms, Battle Lines Are Drawn
Date:2/25/2010

Experts split on whether significant changes will be passed anytime soon

THURSDAY, Feb. 25 (HealthDay News) -- In an attempt to jump-start health-care reform, President Barack Obama on Thursday will hold a bipartisan summit on health care.

The question for Americans who tune in to watch is whether anything will come of it.

With Republican lawmakers demanding that Obama start from scratch and some Democrats conceding that passing comprehensive health reform may be difficult, patient advocacy organizations and many of the nation's most influential medical groups have sought to remind Americans how badly reform is needed.

"President Obama will have a great opportunity to explain what is in the health reform legislation, thereby sorting out fact from fiction," said Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA. "It is likely to energize Democrats in Congress to bring health reform across the finish line."

In January, the landmark health-care legislation that seemed poised to pass was scuttled with the election of a Republican to fill the Massachusetts Senate seat held for decades by a Democrat, the late Edward M. Kennedy. The loss of the seat denied the Democrats their filibuster-proof, 60-seat supermajority and gave Republicans enough votes to block most legislation.

Democratic lawmakers have been trying to decide whether to try to push through legislation with a simple majority of 51 votes in the Senate by using the budget reconciliation process, which prohibits the use of a filibuster.

Health reform legislation would be enacted through a two-step process. First, the House would pass the Senate bill and send it to the president for his signature. Then, an additional bill would be passed by the Senate and House through the reconciliation process that would modify the Senate bill so that it reflects the changes proposed by the president.

With that scenario as a backdrop, O
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