WASHINGTON, Oct. 24 (UPI) -- U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., has been working from his sick bed with lobbyists and lawmakers to craft a bipartisan healthcare package, aides said
Kennedy's goal is to introduce a universal healthcare bill as soon as the new Congress convenes next year and push for a quick passage, The Washington Times reported Friday.
Kennedy has been sidelined since the spring when he was diagnosed with brain cancer. Since his operation he has limited public appearances except for his speech during the Democratic National Convention in August.
The senator reportedly hopes the bill will be helped by extensive consultations between his staff and others who have skin in the healthcare system, Kennedy spokesman Anthony Coley said.
"Senator Kennedy has spent the last several weeks laying the groundwork for reform so that we can be ready to go in 2009," Coley told the Times. "This is and has been the cause of Senator Kennedy's life."
Among lawmakers receptive to a bipartisan plan and who have been involved in initial talks is Sen. Michael B. Enzi, R-Wyo., the ranking Republican on the Senate Health Committee chaired by Kennedy.
The meetings offer "testament to how people feel about" Kennedy, Enzi spokesman Michael Mahaffey said.
"There is a serious process moving forward and that augurs well," said Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, a non-profit healthcare advocacy group.