House to use controversial budget reconciliation process to pass healthcare reform

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Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
The House Budget Committee Wednesday agreed to use the budget reconciliation process as a way to pass significant healthcare reform legislation as part of the fiscal year 2010 budget.

While ironing out the details on its $3.45 trillion budget, Democratic lawmakers stymied repeated attempts by Republicans to remove reconciliation language from the proposal. The reconciliation process limits debate and allows a simple majority to pass a bill. Republicans have opposed the use of this process. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said during her weekly press conference that achieving healthcare reform this year is essential, and the best way to reach that goal is by including the budget reconciliation process in the budget package. Meanwhile, the Senate budget plan, which was marked up Thursday, was not expected to include reconciliation language.

Current versions of healthcare reform legislation call for the creation of deficit-neutral healthcare reserve fund, which the president and Congress would use to pay for reform measures without adversely affecting the national deficit. After a highly- publicized Senate Finance Committee hearing on long-term care on Wednesday, long-term care leaders are hopeful that any final healthcare reform package will include reforms for long-term care services and supports.