House leadership considers bypassing committee to speed vote on healthcare reform bill

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Make therapy caps lower, streamline review process, MedPAC chairman urges House committee
Make therapy caps lower, streamline review process, MedPAC chairman urges House committee
House leaders are keeping all options on the table on a healthcare reform vote as the Aug. 7 congressional recess date nears. Among the possibilities is their bypassing the Energy and Commerce Committee and sending their healthcare reform package straight to a floor vote.

The Energy and Commerce Committee, which is one of the many committees with some amount of jurisdiction over healthcare reform, has been encountering resistance to the bill from conservative Blue Dog Democrats. Seven of these Democrats sit on the panel. On Friday, Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Henry Waxman (D-CA) said there would be "no alternative" but to bypass his committee if recently made compromises don't secure Blue Dog support. But according to Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson (D-CT), bypassing the committee is not the preferred option. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) has remained confident that there are enough votes to pass the reform measure in the House. The bill would include plans for a long-term care disability insurance program.

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus on Thursday sent a letter to Speaker Pelosi also expressing their concerns over the actions being taken by their conservative colleagues. The caucus accused the group of "raising spurious claims" about the true cost of a reform bill, Politico.com reported.