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Congress Braces for Showdown Over Health-Care Reform
Date:7/17/2009

Cost, financing remain volatile issues in the drive for bipartisan support

FRIDAY, July 17 (HealthDay News) -- The beginnings of legislation to overhaul the nation's health-care system started to emerge from Capitol Hill this week, raising hope among some health-reform advocates that this may, at long last, be the year that Congress enacts a law to help America's uninsured and make health care more affordable.

"I think we're in a very good position to meet the president's ultimate schedule of getting a good health reform bill to his desk by mid-October," said Ron Pollack, executive director of the consumer advocacy group Families USA, in Washington, D.C.

Yet many aspects of health reform -- from what it will cost to how the nation will pay for it -- lack bipartisan support. A bill introduced by House of Representatives Democrats on Tuesday drew sharp criticism from Republicans, fiscally conservative Democrats and like-minded policy analysts, raising questions about whether lawmakers can complete the bulk of their work before the August recess -- the aggressive timetable set by President Barack Obama.

"We've already been hit with the sticker shock of just how much this is going to cost -- a trillion dollars plus in 10 years with higher costs beyond that, so there remain questions about whether this is the right time to be engaging in such an expensive agenda item," said Maya C. MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, in Washington, D.C. She said the House measure doesn't do enough to make "a real dent in the growth of health-care costs."

On Thursday, the three committees responsible for overseeing health policy in the House were slated to start to "mark up" the Democratic majority's bill. The legislation would require individuals to obtain health insurance or pay penalties. All but the smallest employers would have to provide coverage to their workers or make contributions t
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