Senate Leaders Inch Closer to Health Care Bill

Bipartisan group hammering out guidelines of reform
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 13, 2009 2:03 PM CDT
Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., listens as President Barack Obama speaks on health reform last week at the White House.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – After months of meetings, a bipartisan group of nine US senators is finalizing terms on what would be the major points of a health-care reform bill, Time reports. The progress of the Gang of Nine—which includes Ted Kennedy and Orrin Hatch—dovetails with efforts being made in the House, and separately with health industry representatives, to get measures on the floor of each chamber by the end of summer.

One sign of progress: Major House committees wrote a letter to President Obama pledging to work together, in contrast to the squabbling that sank the 1994 reform effort. Meanwhile, the participation of leaders from the Senate Budget Committee suggests Democrats may try to pass the measure through end-of-year budget reconciliation. The advantage there is that it requires only 50 votes—thwarting a potential GOP filibuster. Republicans say health care is too important for such a move.