Sen. Kennedy Circulates Draft of Health Reform LegislationSenate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chair Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) is circulating an outline of health care overhaul legislation that includes a requirement that all individuals obtain coverage and requires contributions from employers, the Washington Post reports. According to the Post, the legislation "closely resembles" the Massachusetts health insurance law enacted in 2006, the Post reports. According to the draft summary, the bill calls for a public, government-sponsored health insurance option that would compete with private insurers. The measure also would expand Medicaid eligibility, according to the Post. Kennedy spokesperson Anthony Coley said that the outline is not yet finalized. He said, "We are still actively negotiating with members" of the Senate HELP Committee.
According to a top White House official, Kennedy is expected to introduce his measure on Monday. A timetable released by Kennedy's office calls for Senate HELP Committee Democrats to meet June 2 (Connolly, Washington Post, 5/29). A bipartisan walk-through of Kennedy's bill is scheduled for June 5 and June 9. Hearings on the bill would then take place on June 10 or June 11. The mark up of the bill is scheduled from June 16 through June 25 (Bogardus, The Hill, 5/28). If Kennedy holds to the schedule, he will be ahead of other congressional Democrats, including Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.), on proposing overhaul legislation (Washington Post, 5/29). Coley said, "These are target dates that are not set in stone." Although Senate Democrats are hoping to pass health care reform legislation before the August recess, several senators have questioned whether that timeline is feasible (The Hill, 5/28).
Reform Supporters Call For Removal of Ad
In related health reform news, Democracy for America and the Service Employees International Union on Thursday demanded that Washington, D.C.'s NBC television affiliate refuse to air a 30-minute infomercial funded by Conservatives for Patients' Rights, Politico reports.
According to a letter from SEIU to NBC4, the ad, scheduled to run after "Meet the Press" on Sunday, "will be false, deceitful and a distortion." The union added that the station has a responsibility to pull the ad because it has a duty to protect the public from misleading advertising. In the letter, the union wrote that the conservative group has a history of running "demonstrably false" ads. According to Levana Layendecker, the online campaigns director for Health Care for America Now, CPR could face fines from the Federal Communications Commission if the ad is run, adding that it contains false statements.
CPR spokesperson Keith Appell said, "It's no surprise that they would try to block the public from seeing any information about the dangers of government-run health care," adding, "This program is full of compelling first-person accounts that every American should hear." He said that CPR stands by its ad. An NBC network spokesperson would not comment on the infomercial or the request, deferring questions to NBC4. The affiliate's general manger, Michael Jack, did not return a request for comment (Frates, Politico, 5/28).