What’s Next For Health Care Reform?

reid-obama1Tomorrow, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) will unveil the merged Senate health care bill and the accompanying score from the Congressional Budget Office. The legislation, which should cost no more than $900 billion over 10 years and help lower the deficit, will include a new payroll tax, higher threshold levels for the controversial excise tax on Cadillac health care plans, and a national public health care plan that allows states to opt-out by 2014.

Reid has promised to give Senators at least 72 hours to review the legislation, and debate isn’t expected to begin before Friday, November 17th. Sixty senators will have to vote on a measure to begin what could be six weeks of debate, and 60 votes will stop it.

Before the Senate begins its marathon session — which could last many weeks and weekends — here is a summary timeline of some of how far reform has come, and how far it has to go:

June 2009: Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Releases ‘Affordable Health Choices Act’ and begins considering the legislation in committee.

June 2009: The Senate Finance Committee’s “nothing-burger” proposal is leaked. The legislation does not include a public health insurance option or a requirement that large employers provide coverage.

June 19, 2009: House releases the first draft of its Tri-Committee proposal. The legislation includes a robust public option, a requirement that all large employers provide health insurance coverage, and a surtax on wealthy Americans.

July 13, 2009: After 13 days and more than 60 hours of debate the HELP Committee passed health care reform. Not a single Republican votes for the bill. Instead, they lie about it.

July 31, 2009: All relevant House Committees mark-up and pass the House health care bill by this date.

August, 2009: Republicans misrepresent the consequences of reform in town halls across America.

September 9, 2009:
Obama pushes for health care reform before a joint session of Congress.

September 2009:
Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) releases the Senate Finance Committee health care bill after 6 months of bipartisan negotiations. The bill is attacked from the left and the right. The Committee begins marking up the proposal.

October 13, 2009: The Senate Finance Committee passes the health care bill 14-9. Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) becomes the only Republican to vote for health care reform.

October 26, 2009: Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announces that the final health care bill will include a national public health insurance option, but gives states the option to opt-out of the plan.

October 29, 2009: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) unveils the merged House health care bill.

November 7, 2009: In a 220-215 vote, the House passes bipartisan health care reform legislation. Rep. Joseph Cao (R-LA) becomes the second Republican to vote for health care reform.

November 17, 2009: Reid will unveil the merged health care bill and the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis. Will promise to bring the bill to the floor on Friday.

November 20, 2009: At least 60 senators vote to begin debate on the health care reform bill. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) predicts that the legislation “will be on the floor for quite a long time.” “I think it ought to be on the floor at least as long as it’s been in Harry Reid’s office,” he said on Sunday.

December 21-23, 2009: The Senate passes health care reform bill.

January 2010: The Conference committee merges the Senate and House bills. Will it keep the Stupak language? What will happen to the public option and the employer mandate? How will the conference finance reform? Will it keep the Senate’s excise tax or opt for the House’s surtax on wealthy Americans?

February 2010: The House and will Senate vote on the final conference report.

February/March 2010: President Obama signs health care reform into law.