American Association for Cancer Research

AACR CANCER POLICY MONITOR

CPM

                                                                                                  FEBRUARY 2010

PROSPECTS FOR HEALTH CARE REFORM UNCLEAR                                   

Congressional leaders reevaluate strategy for passing a final bill

The momentum in Congress for passing comprehensive health care reform slowed in mid-January after Senate Democrats were suddenly deprived of the 60-vote majority needed to send a final bill to the president.

An upset victory by Republican Scott Brown in the special election for Massachusetts' Senate seat, the position held for decades by the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy, presented Republicans with an upper hand in the partisan health care debate. It left Democrats one vote shy of overcoming a Republican filibuster to pass a final bill and fueled the opposition's arguments that American voters are wary of the current health care plans in Congress.

Prior to the change in the Senate's composition, legislators were working on reconciling the differences between the separate bills passed in the House and Senate, and preparing to circulate a compromise bill back through both chambers and ultimately to the president.

Democrats are now straining to find a new strategy. One possibility is that the House could adopt the Senate-passed legislation as it stands, which would negate the need for any further action in the upper chamber. House Democrats, however, have expressed reluctance to embrace such an approach.

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