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Looming Deadline on Healthcare Reform

Landmark legislation to overhaul the U.S. health care system passed in the U.S. House of Representatives over the weekend. It expands coverage to almost all Americans and provides federal subsidies to those who cannot afford it. But the big obstacle now for backers of the measure is time. Pat Hernandez has more.



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Democrats cheered after lawmakers narrowly passed House bill 3962.  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi won passage only after concessions, like limits on the use of federal funds for abortion and a government-run insurance program that will pose less of a threat to private insurers. Houston Democrat Gene Green voted with the majority.

“There’s so many good things in the bill from the district like I represent. We have the highest number of uninsured adults under 65 in the country. It’s always been a blue collar district, I grew up in the district and that’s why this bill is so important. It will for the first time, give access to those 40-percent of the people in our district, who don’t have insurance through their employer who need to.”

PH : “What more can you do to help in this effort?”
Green : “Well, we actually got about 17-items in the bill, because I serve on the health sub-committee, that would expand healthcare opportunity and quality healthcare around the country, but particularly in our district. So I’m gonna work, not only for the big picture that we need to have something that covers 96-percent of U.S. citizens like the house bill does, but we also need to make sure we dot the I’s and cross the T’s sort of speak.”

But Houston Republicans like Ted Poe say they voted against the measure because of new taxes and a bigger federal  bureaucracy that will result.

“Deficit  will be raised over a trillion dollars and I think this is the wrong time to try to have a massive overhaul of healthcare.”

PH : “Those who are in favor of it Congressman, they’re saying to do nothing would be even worse. But, you’re saying that to do it the way the Democrats want it, would be just as bad.”

Poe : “That’s correct. I think most members of Congress believe we ought to be doing something, but not turn over healthcare to the federal government. One thing we can do and most of us agree on of course, is to buy insurance across state lines, have a safety net for the working poor and catastrophic injury, and have a person be able to take their insurance from job to job. Those are some things that I think almost everybody agrees on, we could deal with right now and, it wouldn’t cost much money at all. But unfortunately, we didn’t get to have that privilege. We had to have a massive overhaul of the healthcare system and basically now try to turn it over to the federal government.”

The President’s fight to overhaul healthcare now moves to the U.S. Senate. He’s pushing Congress to send him legislation by the end of the year. But before the House and Senate can work together on a compromise, debate could take months.

PH, KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.