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Update: Health Reform Process in House Announced

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Democratic leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives has announced its intentions to seek final votes within the next four to seven days on the Senate health reform bill, H.R. 3590, “the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” and the related “correction” or “sidecar” reconciliation bill.

Earlier today, the House Budget Committee met, considered and passed a “shell” or place holder bill consisting of reforms passed last year by the Ways and Means and Education and Labor Committees.  The Committee passed the bill by a largely party line vote of 21-16.  Two Democrats, Rep. Allen Boyd (D-FL-2nd) and Chet Edwards (D-TX-17th), voted “no.”  The Budget Committee’s consideration and passage of the “shell” was to ensure compliance with the rules necessary to advance a reconciliation bill.  The “shell” bill will be replaced with new language once the bill is considered by the House Rules Committee. 

Following a 48-hour layover as required by House rules, the House Rules Committees will take up the Budget Committee’s bill and replace the contents with the actual contents of the reconciliation bill.  The contents of the reconciliation bill are not yet known but they will include changes or “corrections” to H.R. 3590, including those sought by President Obama and Democrats in the House of Representatives.  The changes or “corrections” may or may not be significant.

The House Rules Committee’s final disposition of the reconciliation bill and the bill’s next steps related to H.R. 3590 remain unclear at this time.  Numerous scenarios are circulating in the press including the possibility that one House vote will be sufficient to pass both the reconciliation bill and H.R. 3590.  At this time, this scenario is speculative.  However, passage by the House of the reconciliation bill through whatever mechanism developed by the Democratic leadership will then result in Senate consideration of the reconciliation bill. 

In anticipation of the final votes in the House of Representatives, the ASA recently joined with members of a surgical coalition to restate ASA’s opposition to H.R. 3590 to members of the House of Representatives.  

Surgical Coalition letter to Speaker Pelosi on March 12, 2010

ASA will continue to carefully follow developments in the anticipated release of the reconciliation bill.  ASA members should remain vigilant as the release of the reconciliation bill and House floor consideration could occur quickly.

ASA members wishing to contact their lawmakers should refer to Dr. Hannenberg’s letter to the membership of March 11th which articulates ASA concerns with the underlying Senate bill and anticipated provisions within the reconciliation bill.

Health Care Reform Update from ASA President Alexander Hannenberg, M.D.

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