It is expected that negotiations on health care reform in the Senate could be completed this week. Negotiators, including Senators Harry Reid, D-Nev., Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., and Max Baucus, D-Mont., and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel are trying to merge two different versions of the legislation - one passed by the Senate Finance Committee, the other by Senate Health. Differences in the bills include a government-run insurance plan and fines for those who do not buy insurance.
Meanwhile in the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., says a "public option" in health care overhaul legislation is an essential ingredient for helping America's middle class deal with rising insurance costs. She says if Congress is going to require nearly all Americans to obtain health insurance, it must include a public insurance plan that could compete with policies from private companies. Pelosi believe the middle class knows that they don't want to buy it from some insurance companies; companies that she says are raising rates and denying coverage.
The House Speaker continues to state that any health care bill the House passes will include a public option. The draft bill approved last week by the Senate Finance Committee doesn't include a public plan although the Health Committee's bill does. Pelosi said she wants the House to make a strong case for a public option, both to the public and to Senators in an eventual House-Senate conference. The House is not expected to take up its health care bill until early November.