"House Democrats yesterday unveiled a $940 billion compromise health care package they said would reduce the deficit and vastly expand health insurance coverage, continuing a march toward what leaders predicted will be final House passage Sunday of a sweeping overhaul that has bitterly divided both Congress and the public," the Boston Globe reports.
The Washington Post summarizes what's in the health bill and reconciliation fixes. "The compromise would extend coverage to an additional 32 million Americans over the next decade by expanding Medicaid eligibility and creating state-run insurance exchanges and federal subsidies for lower-income families who lack access to employer-provided coverage. All Americans would be required for the first time to obtain insurance or face an annual penalty of $695; employers could face penalties of $2,000 per worker for not offering affordable coverage. In exchange for the new business, private insurers would be subject to an array of rules, including a ban on the practice of denying coverage to people with preexisting medical conditions and a requirement that adult children be permitted to stay on their parents' policies until age 26."
More: "It would eliminate the most politically contentious of several deals cut to win the votes of recalcitrant lawmakers by extending to all states a promise of Medicaid funding that had originally been offered only to Nebraska. And it would delay until 2018 the implementation of a 40 percent tax on high-cost insurance policies. To cover the cost of those changes, the compromise would impose a 3.8 percent Medicare tax on investment income for wealthy taxpayers, a levy that would come in addition to a Senate-proposed increase in the regular payroll tax for those families. And it would slice an additional $60 billion from Medicare, with the privately run program known as Medicare Advantage targeted for particularly deep cuts, bringing the total reduction in projected spending on the program to more than $500 billion over the next decade."
Here's a good example -- courtesy of the LA Times -- why House Dem leaders are as optimistic as ever on getting health care passed. "After the caucus meeting, Indiana Rep. Baron P. Hill, a conservative Democrat whom leaders were trying to stop from switching from yes to no on the healthcare legislation, said he was closer to supporting the bill. 'I'm pretty happy about the numbers,' Hill said. 'That moves me a step forward.'"
But the cat herding continues for Democrats: "House Democrats officially gained two and lost two on Thursday as they continued their painstaking zigzag toward 216 votes and final passage of a sweeping health care overhaul, now likely on Sunday," Roll Call writes. "Leaders got two pieces of good news, with retiring Science and Technology Chairman Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.) and freshman Rep. Betsy Markey (D-Colo.), who voted 'no' on the original House bill, announcing they would back reform this time around. But those gains were offset by the losses of Reps. Michael Arcuri (D-N.Y.) and Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) who flipped their previous support to opposition."
"Rebuffing personal pleas from President Obama and Vicki Kennedy, Representative Stephen F. Lynch said yesterday that he will vote against the Democrats' health care overhaul, contending that it doesn't put enough pressure on insurance companies to reduce costs."
More: "The pressure on House members is intense. Lynch was summoned to the White House yesterday afternoon for a personal, 40-minute Oval Office meeting with the president. The former ironworker also received a call from his union's president urging him to vote yes. Vicki Kennedy, widow of the senator, also spoke with Lynch. When reminded yesterday of Senator Kennedy's advice to not let the 'perfect be the enemy of the good,' Lynch told reporters: "There's a difference between compromise and surrender, right? And this is a complete surrender of all the things that people thought were important to health care reform."
The New York Daily News looks at the pressure Upstate New York congressman Scott Murphy is facing. Murphy was elected in a special election with lots of national help from Democrats last year.
"Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), who is undecided on the health care vote, said she is urging Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to hold a separate vote reaffirming Rep. Bart Stupak's (D-Mich.) strict language limiting abortion insurance coverage to help clear the way for passage of the reform package Sunday," Roll Call writes. "Kaptur said she's 'trying to convince her that that would be a very useful thing,' but she said Pelosi hasn't yet signaled a willingness to consider the idea."
And, of course, once the House fight is done, the Senate takes it up. The Hill previews that: "Senators are looking ahead to a battle next week over budget rules in the expectation that healthcare reform will pass the House this weekend. They don't know how long the parliamentary fighting will last." More: "Democrats are confident they can pass the package with a simple majority; Republicans agree that is likely. What's in question is how many of its provisions will fall to procedural objections. If the House passes healthcare reform on Sunday, as some GOP lawmakers expect, the Senate-passed bill will go to President Barack Obama's desk and a reconciliation measure making changes to it will go to the Senate for approval. A Democratic leadership aide said the reconciliation package would hit the floor as early as Tuesday."