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Showdown Over Health-Care Reform Bill Nears
Date:3/21/2010

$940 billion overhaul would give 31 million more Americans access to health insurance

FRIDAY, March 19 (HealthDay News) -- Health experts say that the furiously debated $940 billion health-care reform bill moving toward a vote for passage in Congress this weekend really boils down to one simple tenet: More Americans should have access to health insurance.

"The big impact is the coverage of 31 million uninsured individuals, and that includes about 15 million people with incomes below 133 percent of the poverty line, [through an expansion of Medicaid]," said Karen Davis, president of the Commonwealth Fund in New York City. "Basically, it makes a big dent in the number of uninsured and underinsured. That's far and away the biggest impact."

Thomas R. Oliver, associate director for health policy at the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, described the legislation as "a dramatic effort to really get at the core questions of accessibility and affordability of coverage." Oliver is also a professor of population health sciences at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, in Madison.

Though stating that the effort "is a sweeping change," Oliver also acknowledged that the bill, if passed, would be "disappointing to many who believe that the most constructive thing that we need to do as a nation is to bring all Americans into adequate, basic insurance coverage."

He does, however, believe the latest bill is a step toward that goal.

House Democrats unveiled the bill Thursday evening, saying its chances of passage were sharply enhanced by a report released earlier in the day by the Congressional Budget Office that estimated the bill would reduce the federal deficit by $138 billion over the next 10 years, the Associated Press reported.

Democrats hope that the House will approve the bill already passed by the Senate, though many legislators take issue wi
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