Kennedy, Baucus reaffirm: Health reform in '09

In a letter to President Obama Monday, the two Democratic Senate committee chairman writing legislation to overhaul the U.S. healthcare system again vow to work together to have their bills ready for passage in early June.

"Our intention is for this legislation to be very similar, and to reflect a shared approach to reform, so that measures that our committees report can be quickly merged into a single bill for consideration on the Senate floor," wrote Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.).

"We remain certain that our goal of enacting comprehensive health reform can be accomplished with the urgency that the American people rightly demand," Baucus and Kennedy wrote. The schedule envisioned in the letter is consistent with what Baucus and Kennedy have said all year and tracks closely with the plan laid out by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) and House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller (D-Calif.).

Read the entire letter here:
April 20, 2009

The President
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

For nearly a year, we have been working together toward the shared goal of significant reforms to our health care system. We must act swiftly, because the cost of inaction is too high for individuals, families, businesses, state and federal governments. Comprehensive health care reform legislation will responsibly contain costs, improve quality, enhance disease prevention, and provide coverage to all Americans. We are committed to working with you, and with our colleagues in Congress, to enact legislation to achieve these long-overdue reforms without delay. We are writing to you today to let you know of the schedule for committee action that we intend to follow to meet this goal.

Since our committees share jurisdiction over health care reform legislation in the Senate, we have jointly laid out an aggressive schedule to accomplish our goal. Both committees plan to mark-up legislation in early June. Our intention is for that legislation to be very similar, and to reflect a shared approach to reform, so that the measures that our two committees report can be quickly merged into a single bill for consideration on the Senate floor.

The unprecedented level of funding devoted to health care reform in your budget this year leaves no doubt about your commitment to the goals of expanding coverage, reducing costs, and improving health and health care. We have a moral duty to ensure that every American can get quality health care. We must act to contain the growth of health care costs to ensure our economic stability; to help American businesses deal with the health care challenge; and to make sure that we are getting our money's worth. With your continued leadership and commitment, and working together, we remain certain that our goal of enacting comprehensive health care reform can be accomplished with the urgency that the American people rightly demand.

Respectfully yours,

Senator Max Baucus
Chairman
Senate Finance Committee

Senator Edward M. Kennedy
Chairman
Senate HELP Committee

--Jeffrey Young

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