The Washington Post this week ran a headline, "Quietly, Health Care Debate Enters Crucial New Phase." Well, not that quietly. Not a single workday passed this week without major health care news spilling onto cable news networks, blogs and newspapers.
Below are just a few of the highlights from the past week:
1. House Education and Labor Committee Approves Reform with an all-nighter. In a sign that President Obama's urgency is being felt throughout Congress, the Education and Labor Committee debated amendments until about 6 a.m. Friday morning and resumed mere hours later for a final vote. Two of the three committees reviewing the legislation have now voted for its passage. Next up: the House Energy and Commerce committee, which is voting on amendments now, and is expected to vote on the draft legislation next week.
2. In the Senate, we had major progress with the landmark vote in the Senate HELP Committee. "The Senate health committee approved a massive health care overhaul bill in a party-line 13-10 vote Wednesday morning, a major step in the push to create a government-run health insurance plan. The partisan approval of the $600 billion health bill in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee was a landmark moment in the 60-year push by the Democratic Party for national health care," reports Politico.
3. The New York Times declared in its lead editorial, "[America's Affordable Health Choices Act] is worth fighting for." The NY Times continued, "While the Senate continues to struggle over its approach to health care reform, House Democratic leaders have unveiled a bill that would go a long way toward solving the nation's health insurance problems without driving up the deficit. It is already drawing fierce opposition from business groups and many Republicans. This is a bill worth fighting for. ...The bill makes a mockery of Republican claims that the Democrats are pushing a hugely costly government takeover of medicine."
4. The American Medical Association (AMA) endorsed the House health care bill, undermining Republican arguments implying (and sometimes alleging) that doctors were opposed to the Democratic plan to fix health care. "This legislation includes a broad range of provisions that are key to effective, comprehensive health system reform. We urge members of the House Education and Labor, Energy and Commerce, and Ways and Means Committees to favorably report H.R. 3200 for consideration by the full House."
5. Target joins with Wal-Mart in rebuffing the Chamber of Commerce's staunch opposition to health care reform. The AP reported, "Wal-Mart is the latest in a line of traditionally Republican-leaning businesses to embrace key portions of President Barack Obama's bid to overhaul health care, a trend that could complicate opponents' efforts to build a united front when Congress ramps up its work on the issue this summer."'