The Play-by-Play on Health Care

Obama Health

President Obama may have been on vacation for a week, but there's been no break in the debate over health care.

Republicans are stepping up their offensive as the time for lawmakers to convene back in Washington, D.C., approaches, and Democrats try to devise new strategies to gain Americans' support for their health care agenda.

Here's a rundown of what's really happening in the political world and when Americans can expect movement on health care legislation.

The Democrats' Angle

Sen. John Kerry talks with George Stephanopoulos about the importance of contuing to fight for the health care bill in light of Sen. Ted Kennedys passing
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Sen. Ted Kennedy, who died last week after a battle with brain cancer, pushed health care overhaul until the very end of his life, and now many Democrats are evoking his memory to push their agenda and pass legislation. There is even talk of a bill being named after the late senator, who said health care reform was the cause of his life.

"I hope that his lifetime dream -- that America finally will follow Canada and every other advanced nation in the world in providing affordable health care to all of our people -- will pass," former President Bill Clinton said at a speech in Toronto Sunday, praising Canada's system, a model that many critics feel won't work for the United States.

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Kennedy pushed universal health coverage until the very end of his life and was a strong proponent of making health insurance a requirement for all Americans.

Democrats say Kennedy's death may help re-energize the debate in Washington, which has been increasingly divided not just across partisan lines, but even within the Democratic Party. Some conservative Democrats are opposed to measures proposed by the president and want clarity on how the government would pay for the overhaul.

Yet others say the way the message is being presented needs to be changed as Americans increasingly grow skeptical of health care reform.

Former Sen. Tom Daschle said the White House and Democrats need to do a better job at making the issue of health care reform "a moral imperative."

"I don't think we've succeeded at that yet," the former nominee for the position for Health and Human Services secretary said in an interview with The New York Times. "I think the more we can bring everybody to an understanding about how this in many respects is the civil rights battle of the early part of this century -- it's a fight for the disabled, it's a fight for the sick, it's a fight for equal rights when it comes to health."

Daschle said the GOP has demonstrated an "organizational strength" that is lacking on the Democrats' side and the left needs to do a better job at boiling the issue down to themes that "really motivate and have emotional value."

What Republicans Are Saying

While Kennedy's death is likely to have an impact in health care discussions on the Hill, some Republicans say that evoking his memory in the health care debate could set a dangerous precedent.

"He was the champion of this issue for a long, long time," Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said on ABC News' "Top Line" Monday. "I am not of a mind to reform health care for the sake of anyone's memory, because I'm concerned how that impacts my mom and my dad.

"I disagree with his view of health care for this country -- that's part of the debate, but I don't want to see the country being guilted into health care because of the unfortunate passing of a great senator," Steele said.

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