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President Obama renews commitment to health care reform in State of the Union address

Friday, January 29, 2010

President Barack Obama on Wednesday delivered the first State of the Union address of his presidency, focusing heavily on issues related to the economy.  As expected, the president also reaffirmed his intention to move forward with health care reform despite recent Congressional setbacks.

Halfway through the speech, President Obama urged Congress and the public to reconsider health care proposals currently on the table.  “Do not walk away from reform,” he pleaded. “Not now. Not when we are so close.  Let us find a way to come together and finish the job for the American people.”

Full text of President Obama’s State of the Union address 

Though the path forward remains uncertain, President Obama’s reinvigorated push for health care reform serves as a reminder that the debate is far from over.  Further, Democratic leaders from the House and Senate have said they will continue to consider all available options for passing health reform legislation, although they did stipulate that the process may take longer than originally anticipated. 

A number of scenarios remain on the table for moving health reform legislation.  The two most viable include:

  • Reconciliation: Congressional leaders could rewrite a reform bill so it could move through the Senate under the 51 vote reconciliation rules.  Although this option would present a number of political and logistical challenges, it is considered a feasible approach by Democrats in both chambers. 
  • Two bill strategy: The House could consider and pass H.R. 3590, legislation passed by the Senate on Dec. 24, 2009.  In this scenario, no additional Senate consideration of reform would be needed.  If the House were to pass H.R. 3590, a second reconciliation-friendly (51 votes) “correction” bill containing modifications to the Senate bill would be quickly crafted and passed by the Senate and House.  

ASA continues to closely follow the health reform debate.  We are working to ensure that the voice of anesthesiology remains strong, and that our concerns are fully addressed in any legislation that moves forward.

All ASA members are urged to stay informed and involved as the health reform debate continues.  Please visit www.ASAhq.org often for updates, and be prepared to take action when called upon.

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