Health insurance reform may be accelerated after Brown win

The House and Senate have yet to agree on a final reform bill, but Congressional Democrats may speed up their negotiations to pass a bill before Massachusetts' new Republican senator is seated

Democrats in Congress are scrambling to hammer out a final health insurance reform bill before Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown is seated, reports indicate.

Brown would be Republicans' 41st vote against health reform; his win in the Bay State shattered Democrats filibuster-proof majority.

But negotiations between House and Senate Democrats may be contentious; the two bodies' bills differ significantly. Some in the House are opposed to language in the Senate proposal that would allow the government to subsidize the cost of insurance policies that cover abortion. The Senate bill also includes state-level benefits that some see as pork.

A further point of contention is a Senate bill provision that would bar illegal immigrants from buying health insurance through government-supported exchanges; some in the House support a measure that would allow illegal immigrants to participate in the exchanges if they used their own money.

But Democrats are eager to accomplish something, especially after the legislative wrangling that preceded Brown's win. Their fate in this fall's midterm elections may well hinge on the successful passage of health insurance reform, experts say.

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Posted: January 21, 2010

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