DNC lays foundation for healthcare reform

The Democratic National Committee is trying to lay the groundwork across the country for broad acceptance of President Obama’s upcoming overhaul of the nation’s healthcare system.

The DNC is planning to hold “kickoff” meetings across the country Sunday and throughout the week to mark the official launch of Democrats’ campaign in support of Obama’s plan to reform the country’s healthcare system. The events will take place as the legislative push for health care reform begins in earnest on Capitol Hill.

ADVERTISEMENT
A draft of a bill, floated by Sen. Edward Kennedy’s (D-Mass.) office late last week, would require individuals to obtain health insurance and mandate that employers provide their workers benefits or face financial penalties. Everyone legally residing in the United States would be required to obtain some form of health coverage. Individuals would have to certify to the government that they had coverage or pay an unspecific tax penalty if they do not enroll. The text makes some limited exceptions to the provision, including an undefined waiver for people based on an “exceptional financial hardship.”

Kennedy’s office, along with Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) will brief reporters on the draft legislation Tuesday and the Senate Health, Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee plans a health care reform hearing Thursday.

Kennedy spokesman Anthony Coley said it is unclear whether Kennedy, who is chairman of the HELP Committee, will be back in the Senate this week.

The HELP Committee is slated to markup the full bill the week of June 15. The Senate Finance panel is operating on a similar timetable, as are the three House committees working on healthcare reform. Democrats in Congress wants to pass the bills by July 31 with the goal of combining them into a final package Obama could sign before the end of the year.

Organizing for America, a DNC project aimed at supporting Obama’s agenda, this week will begin hosting thousands of meetings at individual homes in local communities throughout all 50 states, according to a party release. The events will include a message from Obama outlining his principles for reform and goals to provide affordable healthcare for all Americans while protecting people’s choice of doctors and health plans.

-- This article was corrected on Sunday, June 7.