Harkin said the combination of Democratic control of Congress and the White House and President-elect Barack Obama's stated desire to expand healthcare coverage sets the stage for a meaningful overhaul, The Des Moines (Iowa) Register reported Thursday.
"I'm hopeful that we get it done by August, but at least get it done next year before we break for Christmas," Harkin said after addressing a healthcare conference in Des Moines. "I predict if we don't get it done next year, it's not going to happen in this Congress. It's got to be done next year."
Harkin was tapped last month by Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., to take the lead on public health and disease prevention provisions in a proposed overhaul.