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House Committees To Release Health Bills


It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning, I'm Steve Inskeep.


And I'm Renee Montagne.

When it comes to Congress and health care, there's no shortage of second opinions. In a moment we'll hear two very different from two leading senators, Orrin Hatch and Chris Dodd.

First we'll listen as multiple congressional committees offer their changes. NPR's Julie Rovner reports on the first group of lawmakers to approve a plan.

JULIE ROVNER: It took nearly a month, but Connecticut Democratic Senator Chris Dodd just prior to the final vote at the Senate Health Education and Labor Committee said he was pleased with the measure that emerged.

Senator CHRISTOPHER DODD (Democrat, Connecticut): And I'm proud that this has come from this committee. Because it's only right that the bill for which Americans have waited 60 years should come from the committee chaired by Ted Kennedy, who has fought for it for decades.

ROVNER: Kennedy, of course, has been at home undergoing treatment for brain cancer. Meanwhile, the House Education and Labor Committee opened its drafting session of the bill unveiled by Democratic leaders Tuesday. Chairman George Miller of California touted the measure's reach.

Representative GEORGE MILLER (Democrat, California): Our reforms will cover 97 percent of Americans by the year 2015.

ROVNER: But Republicans in the House and Senate have been sharpening their rhetoric against the measures in recent weeks, as the legislative process has progressed. Minnesota's John Kline, the committee's top Republican, repeated a criticism heard frequently around Capitol Hill yesterday about the bill.

Representative JOHN KLINE (Republican, Minnesota): It stands to make our health care problems far worse with the system of federal mandates, bureaucratic limitations, and massive tax increases that will cripple our economy while degrading the quality of health care.

ROVNER: All three House committees overseeing the bill will continue with their work today.

Julie Rovner, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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