Congress returns to Washington after last week’s July fourth break for several vigorous weeks of debate before breaking again in August, and Health Care Reform is at a full boil on the front burner in both chambers.
In the House, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) has declared that a health reform bill will pass that chamber before the August recess. That means three different committees must mark up and pass their versions of a bill, those bills must be merged into one, which must then pass the House floor, all in four weeks (the House adjourns August 1st). Markups begin next week.
In the Senate, debate over the HELP Committee’s bill starts back up this week, but some changes have been made – the bill now has a public option for insurance coverage, and an “employer mandate” requiring that businesses offer their employees health insurance or pay a fee. Those changes have brought the price down significantly. The Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over Medicare, Medicaid, and tax changes, is set to roll out its bill later this week.
While the Senate likely won’t move as fast as the House, President Obama continues to call for a bill on his desk by the end of the year.