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Reid Pushes Party Holdouts to Vote for Health-Care Bill Debate

Posted on 18 Nov 2009

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he's close to unveiling legislation to overhaul the U.S. health-care system even as fellow Democrats raise concerns over issues from abortion to a government-run insurance plan.

Reid, who is scheduled to meet with the Senate Democratic caucus at 5 p.m. today, said he expects cost estimates from the Congressional Budget Office “very soon” and is hopeful he can get enough votes to start debate on the bill.

“I feel cautiously optimistic that we can do that,” Reid said in Washington yesterday, referring to opening floor discussion on the health-care measure. Sixty votes are needed in the Senate to overcome efforts to block debate.

The legislation, President Barack Obama’s top domestic priority, is intended to cover millions of uninsured Americans while curbing medical costs. The proposals for purchasing exchanges, subsidies and a requirement that all Americans have coverage would cost more than $800 billion over 10 years and mark the biggest changes to U.S. health care in four decades.

The House passed its version on a 220-215 vote on Nov. 7. Reid, a Nevada Democrat, has been waiting for the CBO analyses on various proposals drawn up by the Senate health and finance committees before unveiling his plan.