Senate Is Getting Ready for Further Health Care Debate

It will take a great deal of effort for Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader, to get 60 senators to allow for a vote in favor of his comprehensive health care reform package. The White House doesn't intend to let him go at it alone, however.

The Obama administration has been coordinating its health care messaging with Democratic leaders in the Senate according to various reports. Reid will "get backing from war rooms on Capitol Hill and in the White House, where operatives with a coordinated strategy stand ready to amplify the floor debate," Politico reports.

Meanwhile, the White House released today a video featuring Vice President Joe Biden, who asks, "Who do you trust?" when it comes to explaining what health insurance reform means.

Reports last week said President Obama assigned a blog post from the Atlantic's Ron Brownstein, which praises the Senate health care bill, as required reading for all White House staff working on health care, CBS News reports.

It was also reported, there are important differences between the bill that passed the House and the version that will be debated by the Senate.

Huber, who provides employee-benefits brokerage and consulting services to small and midsized businesses, says business owners need to look at the two bills and let members of Congress know what they think.

Huber personally thinks the Senate bill would be better for businesses than the House version because its employer mandate is less onerous.

But he is concerned that the Senate bill’s mandate for individuals to obtain insurance coverage is too weak and would lead many to wait until they were sick to get insurance.

“That really could spell increasing costs for everyone,” he says, reports.

In the meantime, many senators have expressed concern about the bill's effect on consumer costs and insurance premiums. Democrats have no margin of error as they control 60 seats in the 100-member Senate -- exactly the number needed to overcome Republican opposition.

The debate will feature battles over a government-run public insurance option, which backers say will create more choice but critics believe will lead to a government takeover of the industry, and over efforts to tighten language barring the use of federal funds for abortions.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed its version of the healthcare overhaul on November 7. If the Senate passes a plan, the two versions will have to be reconciled and passed again by each chamber before they are sent to Obama for his signature, The Washington Post reports.

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