House leader predicts reform will pass

March 7, 2010 at 4:51 PM
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WASHINGTON, March 7 (UPI) -- A U.S. House Democratic leader said Sunday he believes Congress will approve healthcare legislation.

"I believe it will pass. Do we have a mortal lock? No, because people are still looking at some of the changes that are being made to the bill," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

He pointed out President Barack Obama has sent lawmakers a letter with additional ideas based on the recent bipartisan healthcare summit.

"Until people have a final product that they are able to look at and the Congressional Budget Office, our referee on budget issues, says whether or not this will do what the earlier bills did, then I think it's going to be hard to get people to commit," Van Hollen said. "But I think the trend is in the right direction because people see that the status quo is absolutely broken."

Van Hollen pointed to "skyrocketing" health insurance premiums and people losing coverage because of high costs or job loss.

Rep. Brian Baird, D-Washington, who also appeared on the program, agreed on the need for reform, though he voted against the House bill and remains undecided on it.

"The current system -- the rising costs, the numbers of uninsured, the ability to be rejected if you have a pre-existing condition -- is absolutely unacceptable," he said. "We have to do something. And I actually applaud President Obama and the Democratic Party for taking this difficult challenge on.

But Baird added: "I think I'm in a place where many Americans are. They see the need for reform. The question is: Is this the best way we can do reform? And it is very complicated."

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