Health Highlights: July 23, 2009

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by editors of HealthDay:

Senate Puts Off Vote on Health-Care Legislation

Democratic leaders in the U.S. Senate have postponed a vote on health-care reform until after Congress returns from its August break, despite President Barack Obama's push to tackle the country's $2.4 trillion medical-care system before the traditional summertime recess.

"It's better to have a product based on quality and thoughtfulness rather than try to jam something through," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who made the announcement Thursday, the Associated Press reported.

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The rush to enact the complex legislation had riled Republicans, and Reid said the delay would provide time for a possible compromise, the AP said.

Reid said that the Senate Finance Committee would finalize its version of the bill before adjourning. Separate legislation already approved by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, known as HELP, would be merged with the Finance bill, according to the AP.

But some lawmakers predict difficulty in merging the bills because the Finance Committee is seeking bipartisan approval for its measure, whereas Democratic votes secured passage of the HELP bill.

Reid said that senior Republicans working on the Finance bill had asked for more time to work out a compromise, the AP noted. "The decision was made to give them more time, and I don't think it's unreasonable," he said.

Obama appeared on prime-time television Wednesday night to make another appeal for health-care reform.


Poll Still Finds Public Support for Health-Care Reform

While a majority of Americans still think health-care reform is needed now, some of that support has wavered slightly as Congress wrestles with the details of producing a reform package, according to the July Kaiser Health Tracking Poll.

Fifty-six percent of Americans continue to believe that health reform is more important than ever, despite the country's economic problems. And by a better than two-to-one margin (51 percent to 23 percent), Americans think the country would be better off if Congress and President Barack Obama enacted health reform, the poll found.

But concerns raised during the Congressional debate appear to be influencing some people's views. For instance, a larger share of the public is more worried that Congress and the president will pass a bill that's bad for their family (54 percent) than that health-care reform won't happen this year (39 percent). And while a majority of Americans still favor reform now, the percentage of people who hold that view has dropped from 61 percent to 56 percent since June, the poll found.

The proportion of people who say passage of health-care reform would make things worse for their own family, although relatively small, has doubled since February (from 11 percent to 21 percent), as has the proportion of Americans who say the country would be worse off if health-care reform passed -- from 12 percent to 23 percent, according to the poll.

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