Health Care Progress Report: October 26

Updated at 4:50 p.m. ET with more information.

As President Obama's year-end deadline for passing comprehensive health care reform approaches, this should be a key week on Capitol Hill as Democratic leaders in both chambers could each unveil new health care bills.

CBSNews.com Special Report: Health Care

As Congress works on the bills, CBSNews.com has been tracking its progress for you. Below is a chart to track the six major steps Washington needs to take to accomplish health care reform.

Today, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid he will include a government-run health insurance plan, or "public option," in the bill he introduces before the full Senate. This positions the Senate to clear the second step toward health care reform; the House may soon follow.

(CBS)


More on the progress of health care legislation in each chamber of Congress.

(AP Photo/Harry Hamburg)
SENATE: Two Senate committees have approved two different health care bills, and now Senate leadership must move onto step two and present a single bill before the full Senate. After leading negotiations with other Senate leaders and the White House, Reid announced today he would include in that bill a public option that would allow states the ability to opt out of the program.

Reid is sending different versions of his health care bill -- each with a public option -- to the Congressional Budget Office to assess the cost impact of each version before deciding which one to formally introduce.

It is still unclear whether the Democratic caucus is unified in the Senate over its health care measure. Reid included the public option in the bill after facing pressure from liberal legislators and activists on the issue. However, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) told reporters Monday that he thinks at least four key senators remain opposed to the public option opt-out plan.

Last week, the Senate voted on a separate health care measure, and the outcome did not bode well for comprehensive reform. Reid brought to the floor a bill that would have averted a 21 percent Medicare pay cut to doctors. There is widespread agreement in Washington that Congress needs to fix Medicare to ensure that doctors do not see that pay cut. Even so, the Senate was 13 votes short of advancing the bill.

Reid's failure to win over moderates, who were troubled by the fact that the Medicare fix was not paid for, could be seen as a sign that getting enough votes to pass comprehensive health care legislation will be more difficult than anticipated.

The inclusion of a public option in the Senate bill, however, is encouraging news to liberals who were concerned by reports that President Obama preferred a more moderate "trigger" plan, which would have implemented a public option after a number of years if private insurers failed to meet certain goals.

(AP Photo/Harry Hamburg)
HOUSE: The House of Representatives is also on the verge of completing step two. Three different health care bills have passed out of committee, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) may bring a unified bill to the floor this week, according to CongressDaily, an excerpt of which can be read here via Politico. Leaders in the House reportedly hope to vote on the bill by Nov. 6.

Pelosi has promised the House bill will include a public option, and last week, she was able to trim a bill with a robust public option down to a price tag of $871 billion. Given that the Senate is more seriously considering a public option, however, Pelosi said Friday there is more room for flexibility in the House bill in terms of what kind of public option is included.

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