Healthcare Reform Push Gets Second Wind

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Like a stalled car humming back to life, Congress' push to overhaul health care is getting a second wind.

The third and final House committee responsible for the health care bill resumed work Thursday morning. The markups began after fiscally-conservative Democrats struck a deal with party leaders to keep costs down, exempt more businesses from being required to provide health insurance, and make the public insurance plan more palatable to skeptics.

"The public option is just that. It's optional," Rep. Mike Ross, D-Ark., said. "It gives consumers more choices. It's not mandated on any of them."

House committee leaders are on track to vote on the bill before they break for summer recess Friday. That would clear the way for a full House vote when they return in September.

But they are much farther along than the Senate, which finally saw its own breakthrough on bipartisan legislation this week.

"The current draft of the bill scores below $900 billion, covers 95 percent of all Americans by 2015 and is fully offset," Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., said.

Still, a key Republican involved in negotiations said there is no chance of anything being completed before they leave Washington.
    
With poll after poll showing public support for the president's plan waning, Obama returned to a page from his old campaign playbook, taking his case directly to voters.

"We're the wealthiest country on earth and for us to be the only advanced nation where everybody can't count on basic health care is shameful," Obama said at a town hall meeting in Virginia.

Outside of President Obama's healthcare town hall in North Carolina supporters and opponents did not hold back their opinions.

"I think people with pre-existing conditions, they deserve to have another option so that they don't have to sell their home or their livelihood just so they can get coverage," supporter Cheryl Ellis said.

Nicola Longo spoke out against Obama's health care plan.

"I am Italian and I can tell you horrible stories about what happens when you have socialized health care," she said.

Dr. Barron Nason of Nason Medical Center said there are good and bad parts to nationalized health care.

"But the road to hell is paved with good intentions," she said.

Congress will not be able to meet the president's original August deadline to overhaul health care because the House and the Senate will have to resolve whatever differences exist in their respective bills.

But any votes they take, either this week or after their recess, will put them much closer to reforming health care when Congress reconvenes in September.

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