Sunday, April 12, 2009

Reform delays - Congressional Health Care Reform Timetable 2009

Congress will soon engage in debate over the 2010 budget. A big part of that debate will focus on health care. Democrats are cautiously optimistic about prospects for reform. Republicans will argue the budget is fiscally irresponsible because it will produce staggering federal deficits, offers no real savings, and will lead to an unprecedented “socialistic experiment.” Whether Congress will have the stomach to punish an economic sector like health care with its impressive record in creating jobs and serving in many communities remains unknown.

I’m not a disinterested observer. My book, Obama, Doctors, and Health Reform: The Health System, from Top-Down to Bottom-Up, As Seen Through Lens of Cultural Complexity: A Doctor Accesses Odds for Success of Obama Health Reform, is likely to appear in the midst of the debate.

What follows is the health reform timetable prepared by the Director of Federal Affairs for Affordable Health Insurance, Washington, D.C.


April 20 to May 22:

• Congress will be in session for these five weeks.

• Week of April 20: Each chamber should pass the budget resolution with reconciliation instructions included.

• April 21: Senate Finance holds a public roundtable discussion on “Delivery System Reform.”

• Week of April 27: If reconciliation is a sticking point, then Congress should resolve it and should pass the budget resolution during the week of the 27th.

• April 29: Senate Finance holds closed door meeting where Baucus walks the members and staff through the delivery system reform legislative options he is drafting.

• May 5: Senate Finance holds a public roundtable discussion on “Expanding Coverage.”

• May 12: Senate Finance holds closed door meeting on legislative options for expanding coverage.

• May 14: Senate Finance holds a public roundtable discussion on “Financing.”

• May 21: Senate Finance holds closed door meeting on financing options.

May 25 to 29:

• Congress is not in session.

June 1 to June 29:

• Senate committees should approve (“mark up”) their versions of health care reform. This is the start of the legislative process.

• The House committees should move a product during this calendar block. The House versions will be more aggressive than the Senate version, and, if health care is to pass, the final product will look more like the Senate version.

July 6 to August 3 (House) or August 10 (Senate):

• Full Senate should approve health care reform.

• Full House should approve its bill.

August 3 (House) or August 10 (Senate) to September 4:

• Congress is not in session

September 8 to November 20:

• Federal holidays and religious days of observance provide a few days off during this stretch of time, but the breaks aren’t as long as some of the others.

• Conference Committee should work out the differences in the two bills and then each chamber must approve before the final product before it goes to President Obama to sign.

• Congress would like to adjourn at the end of October, but it rarely hits that target date in an off-election year.

• Congress should wrap up its legislation business for the first session of the 111th. Congress. If it doesn’t, it will return after Thanksgiving and finish before Christmas.


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