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The Republicans have opened fire on using the budget reconciliation process but a former Congressional official who knows reconciliation well says it's neither.

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Coming off a much-hyped health care summit, the Democratic plan for passing health care reform legislation is slowly coming into focus: first have the House pass the Senate bill (H.R.3590) then change it through reconciliation.

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Sen. Gregg Defends Budget Reconciliation ...in 2005

February 26, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

This 2005 floor speech on using budget reconciliation for passing ANWR oil drilling by Sen. Judd Gregg [R, NH] is actually a really strong defense of the Democrats' finishing their health care reform bill with the budget reconciliation process:

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Policy Discussions are Popular

February 26, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Whether you think the health care summit yesterday was a healthy discussion, or just more of the same rhetoric, there is evidence that the summit format, which allows for unscripted and spontaneous discussion, is just way more popular than other big political events: The White House says that over the course of the day the White House webcast of the summit served 3.9M streams and peaked at 60k concurrent viewers. By contrast the State of the Union webcast served 1.3M streams and peaked of 85k. ...

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Some Thoughts on the Summit

February 25, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

On the surface, today's health care summit didn't change much of anything. No bipartisan agreement was struck on how to move forward. But, on another level, there was something fresh and even historic about what happened. The summit brought with it some big developments on how the public can (and should) be interacting with national policy issues.

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White House Fights Health Care "Plan B" Story

February 25, 2010 - by Eric Naing

In advance of today's health care summit, the White House is furiously working to push back on a Wall Street Journal story claiming that it could fall back on a scaled down “Plan B” health care plan. The WSJ reports that Plan B would provide insurance for about half as many Americans, roughly 15 million as the current health care plans do: It would do that by requiring insurance companies to allow people up to 26 years old to stay on their parents' health plans, and by modestly expanding t...

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Your Guide to the WH Health Care Summit

February 25, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

If you're looking for a good spot to watch today's six-hour session of live health care wonk-out, you've come to the right place. We've got the live video feed and tons of helpful contextualizing links posted on the OpenCongress blog. Click though to watch the live video and share your comments throughout the day.

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The House of Representatives did something thoroughly bipartisan with health care today. They voted, 406-19, to strip the health insurance industry of the exemption from federal antitrust laws that they have had since the passage of the McCarran-Ferguson Act in 1945.

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Senate Budget Committee Chairman Sen. Kent Conrad [D, ND] said he thinks the procedural plan Democrats have settled on for their health care bill is unworkable. If they can't find another way, health care reform is "dead," Conrad said.

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Reconciliation Is More Common Than You Think

February 24, 2010 - by Eric Naing

Republicans have recently taken to referring to the reconciliation process as the “nuclear option” for health care but if you look at its recent history, you'll find that reconciliation isn't the unprecedented event that the nickname suggests. As a quick refresher, the budget reconciliation process allows senators to pass a bill related to revenues and the budget with only 51 votes - or 50 votes and the vice president's tie-breaking vote. A must-read story from NPR today quotes Sen. John K...

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I know it's sometimes off-putting to have to interrupt your web browsing to download a PDF, open it up using a separate program and then have it clutter up your desktop. That's why we've taken the full text of the plan that the White House released yesterday, converted it into HTML and posted it as a webpage. No more excuses!

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Boehner: White House Plan is Too Short

February 23, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

What's really ridiculous here is that the White House plan that was released yesterday is not a bill, and it only deals with a small portion of the health care bills in Congress. If it was written as a bill instead of the more friendly, plain English outline it is, it would probably be somewhere between the lengths of the Senate and House health care bills. And those, of course, are "too long."

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Obama Modifies "Cadillac" Health Insurance Tax

February 22, 2010 - by Eric Naing

The health care debate isn't just between Democrats and Republicans. Liberals too have been fighting one another – particularly on the issue of the excise tax on so-called “Cadillac” health insurance policies - and now the president has entered the fray.

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Obama Adopts Feinstein Insurance Rate Hike Proposal

February 22, 2010 - by Eric Naing

As part of the White House health care plan, President Obama wants to give the federal government the authority to block “unreasonable” rate hikes by health insurance companies. Earlier this month California-based Anthem Blue Cross, a subsidiary of health insurance mega-company WellPoint, announced that it would be increasing the cost of insurance premiums for thousands of its customers. In some cases, the premiums would be jump by as much as 39 percent. The rate hike sparked an outcry from...

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The Final Olive Branch

February 22, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

The big news with the plan released today by the White House isn't really about its contents, it's about its format. The White House could have put out a full bill, written in legalese and numbering hundreds of pages, and then tried to push it through Congress. Instead, the plan seems to be designed to accommodate new ideas.

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