Obama, Congress hammer away at economic stimulus package

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Economic initiatives may precede healthcare reform when Obama takes office, experts say
Economic initiatives may precede healthcare reform when Obama takes office, experts say
President Barack Obama and Congress have been making headway on a major economic stimulus package. They aim to pass it during the first 100 days of the new administration.

Obama touted his party's $825 billion plan over the weekend during his first weekly video address. He also pointed out that it is not a "quick fix" for the nation's economic ailments. The House version includes an $87 billion increase in the federal medical assistance percentage, which would help states reduce budget shortfalls caused in part by increased enrollment in Medicaid. Two-thirds of the package would go toward new government spending.

Meanwhile, the Senate unveiled its version on Friday. While similar in many ways to the original House version, the Senate bill contains some key differences, especially among its many healthcare provisions. The Senate bill contains up to $3 billion more in healthcare information technology funding than its House counterpart, and would also provide an extra $3.5 billion for the Department of Veteran's Affairs to build new long-term care facilities and hospitals, according to the Wall Street Journal.