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Lawmakers Getting Closer to Health Care Reform
Date:1/14/2010

Bill would expand coverage to 30 million uninsured Americans, seek to control soaring costs

THURSDAY, Jan. 14 (HealthDay News) -- An agreement in principle on the landmark overhaul to the U.S. health care system could come as early as Friday, lawmakers said Thursday.

The agreement in principle, which would cover major issues such as how to pay for health coverage and how many Americans could receive it, would then go to the Congressional Budget Office for its estimates. Only after the budget office reviews the proposal can the House of Representatives and Senate take a final vote and send the bill to President Barack Obama for his signature.

Specific issues, including whether taxpayer funds would cover abortions, would be resolved later, the Associated Press reported.

"We're shooting for tomorrow," House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) told reporters Thursday. "We hope to have the whole thing, as much as we can have [for the budget office] to be able to start working."

Following months of heated debate, negotiations picked up speed Wednesday, when lawmakers met from midmorning until early evening at the White House, trying to iron out differences between the Senate and House versions of the bill. Negotiations resumed at the White House Thursday, and Rangel made his prediction after speaking with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other Democratic leaders, the AP said.

The plan would expand coverage to more than 30 million people who lack insurance, prohibit insurers from denying coverage to those with existing medical conditions, and attempt to control soaring health-care costs.

A major obstacle -- a proposal to tax high-value medical plans -- was apparently resolved in private negotiations with union leaders Thursday, and the tentative settlement was to be put before Congressional leaders later in the day, said union and Democratic off
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