Health Care: What’s Next?

Jan 5, 2010 9:23am

ABC News' Jonathan Karl reports: The beginning of the end, or maybe just the end of the beginning. After an abbreviated holiday break, today Democrats begin the process of merging the health care bills passed by the House and Senate.  The goal: crafting and passing a final bill before President Obama's State of the Union address (no date yet set for the speech, but possibly February 2). Senate leaders are still back home, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is in town and will meet with her key committee chairman today to discuss strategy for negotiations with the Senate.  After that, Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer will meet with the President at the White House.  Senate leaders Reid and Durbin will join the conversation via conference call. Although Democrats plan to avoid a formal conference committee, there will be an intense series of informal negotiations involving House and Senate leaders and the White House.  Today's is the first. House Democratic staff have worked up a handy 11-page list of "Top Line" differences between the two bills.  As you can see, there is much more to be worked out than the three biggies that have received the most attention:  abortion, financing and the public option.  Among the other major differences:  The House bill goes into effect one year earlier and includes more generous subsidies.  House leaders will fight on the both those counts, but their version is significantly more expensive.  Here's the list of differences, as posted by Politico.  Not mentioned on that list of differences:  All the special treats inserted for key Senators (the Louisiana Purchase, the Cornhusker Kickback, the Florida Flim Flam, etc.)   You can be sure those will subject to negotiation as well.

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