Healthcare reform has support -- for now

Nov. 21, 2008 at 12:16 PM
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WASHINGTON, Nov. 21 (UPI) -- Democratic and Republican leaders in the U.S. Senate have signaled they will work together to pass sweeping healthcare reform legislation next session.

Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., and party leaders of the relevant committees issued a statement promising to unite to "achieve comprehensive healthcare reform," The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

Indications are that President-elect Barack Obama's healthcare reform enjoys broad support from special-interest groups that worked together to scuttle a universal healthcare bill introduced by President Bill Clinton, the Journal said.

Reasons for the support vary, observers told the newspaper, and include lower costs, improved quality, broader access and affordable rates.

"You see a range of diverse stakeholders trying to work together to achieve healthcare reform," said Karen Ignagni, president of America's Health Insurance Plans. "You see it on (Capitol) Hill, off the Hill, in various coalitions. And that's very different than what we saw in the early '90s."

Obama's plan would call for a government-organized exchange allowing individuals and small businesses to buy coverage from private companies or from a new government-run plan similar to Medicare. Among other things, it would provide tax credits to small-business employers if they provide insurance and require larger employers to offer coverage or pay into fund.

While support seems high now, Robert Laszewski, a healthcare consultant and former insurance industry official, told the Journal, "The rubber hits the road when that 1,000-page document comes out with specifics."

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