Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), a stalwart of past healthcare-reform initiatives, has taken the lead in a Herculean effort to take President-elect Barack Obamas healthcare reform blueprintand potentially much morefrom the written page to reality.
Michael Myers, staff director of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which Kennedy chairs, said that the ailing senator has been working behind closed doors with a variety of stakeholders to build a legislative framework under a one-bill approach, which means that a single, comprehensive package could move rather than several smaller ones.
Myers, speaking to reporters in Washington as part of a forum sponsored by Families USA, said Kennedy has made healthcare reform the first, second and third priorities on his agenda. With the Obama victory, the question is no longer whether we will pursue comprehensive health reform, but when and in exactly what form, he said.
Working outside of Washington, Kennedy has held briefings with other key members of Congress, including Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), and several more leaders in the House. Additionally, he has spoken with the Democratic members of his own Senate committee to get their recommendations as well, Myers said.
Its unclear what the legislation might include, and a draft bill has yet to be circulated. Myers said that prep work started this past summer, but added that no official timeline exists. The big aspect of it now is that well take our cues from President Obama on the overall framework, he said. -- by Matthew DoBias