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Senate Upset Foils Democrats' Health Reform Agenda
Date:1/20/2010

Future direction of Obama's top domestic priority remains unclear

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 20 (HealthDay News) -- House and Senate Democrats' ambitious plans to revamp the nation's health-care system were torpedoed Tuesday night in the wake of a Massachusetts special election that delivered the seat long held by the late Sen. Edward Kennedy to a Republican.

State Sen. Scott Brown, who won the crucial seat by more than 100,000 votes, has vowed to vote against the health-care legislation that Congress is considering. Without 60 Democrats in the Senate to hold off a Republican filibuster, health reform legislation -- at least in its current form -- seems much less likely to advance, pundits say.

Carol Pryor, a health policy analyst based in Boston, said Brown's message resonated with voters in part because of the complexity of the legislation -- detailed in voluminous House and Senate bills passed in 2009.

"People really had lost sight of what's in it, or didn't have a good sense of what was in it, and there was a lot of misinformation spread around about it," she explained.

"I do think that the dragged-out negotiations and all of the deals that people had to make in order to get this through Congress, especially with the need for 60 votes in the Senate, after a while made it seem like there was just a lot of deal-making going on behind the scenes," Pryor added.

Appearing on Fox News Sunday this week, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) characterized the election as a "referendum" on the national health reform initiative, which he claimed Democrats were trying to work out in secret.

"They have arrogantly ignored American public opinion all the way to this point," he said. "And they're trying to get their members to continue to ignore public opinion one more time."

Robert Restuccia, executive director of Community Catalyst, a national consumer health advocacy organizatio
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