Despite Some Progress, Key Senators Say August Deadline A Longshot
One day after President Obama told lawmakers to speed up their pace, three key Finance Committee senators expressed doubts about meeting the President's August deadline for passing a reform proposal, Politico reports. Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., said he doesn't "see how" his colleagues can confirm the new Supreme Court nominee, Sonia Sotomayor, and pass a health bill in the time left before the August recess.
Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, one of the Republicans being courted to support the bill, called the deadline "overly ambitious," while Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., the Finance chairman, expressed some optimism but said, "I'm not going to guarantee that it's going to happen" (Budoff Brown, 7/14).
Despite statements from Senators still working out the "pay-fors" of the Senate bill, the Senate leadership is sticking to the deadline. "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., insisted on Monday, 'We're going to get health care done before we leave here,' referring to the recess," Fox News reports (7/14).
Meanwhile, the other Senate committee, Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, reached a bipartisan compromise on provisions that would attempt to save money by making Americans more health conscious, the Boston Globe reports. "Workers who quit smoking, lose weight, and eat right could have their health insurance premiums cut by as much as half, possibly saving them thousands of dollars per year, under a measure inserted with little notice this week into the Senate healthcare overhaul bill."
"The move represents a potential breakthrough on one of the most controversial elements of healthcare overhaul: how to get Americans to improve their well-being without turning government into a medical version of Big Brother" (Kranish, 7/15).