Lawmakers Predict Delay For Health Reform Plan

Associated Press
Monday, July 13, 2009

President Obama's overhaul of the nation's health-care systems is unlikely to be completed by the White House's August deadline, lawmakers said Sunday.

Democrats and Republicans alike said the administration's sweeping health-care reform proposals are moving forward on Capitol Hill, but they cautioned against rushing into a spending plan that could cost trillions of dollars over the next decade.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said she remains optimistic about Congress sending the legislation to the White House before the year ends. "I think everything is on the table and discussions are underway," she said.

The administration's Democratic partners in Congress hinted that they would not deliver legislation before leaving town for an August recess. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) said Obama should be pleased with lawmakers' progress; Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) said "there really is plenty of time."

Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) insisted that lawmakers would have the overhaul in place before leaving town in August. He does not, however, expect Obama to sign it before lawmakers return to their home states.

Republicans have lambasted the proposals as rash and irresponsible. "I think the bigger issue here is why are we going to increase spending and health care by $1 trillion, $2 trillion, $3 trillion?" said Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.). "Most of which we can't afford, add that to the debt or add it the tax burden of the American people. Why don't we approach this horse from the other end?"

"There is no chance that it's going to be done by August," said Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.). On Sunday, Sebelius, Stabenow, Conrad and Gregg appeared on CNN's "State of the Union." Schumer was on NBC's "Meet the Press." Kyl spoke on ABC's "This Week."

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