No Health Reform before Recess

July 24, 2009 ( - Close, but no cigar. While reports last week indicated health reform bills would be passed in both the U.S. Senate and House before the August recess, it's not going to happen.

Business Insurance reports that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) pulled the plug Thursday on the full Senate taking up sweeping health care reform legislation before the August recess. “It is better to get a product that’s based on quality and thoughtfulness than on trying to just get something through,” Reid said at a news briefing, according to the news report.

Reid said the delay is not a surprise. While the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee passed a reform bill last week, Senator Max Baucus (D-Montana), the chairman of the Finance Committee, has been working for weeks to develop a reform bill that would have support from at least a few Republican members on that panel. The two committees share jurisdiction on health care reform legislation.

Even if there were a sudden agreement on a Finance Committee bill, according to Business Insurance, there would not have been enough time for Senate leaders to come up with one bill that merged proposals from the two Senate committees and complete action before the recess, scheduled for August 7.

Action on reform legislation also has been stymied in the House. The Education and Labor and the Ways and Means Committees have passed measures, but the Energy and Commerce Committee has not (see Health Care Reform Continues March through Congress ).

Business Insurance said opposition from both Republicans and conservative Democrats – part of the so-called Blue Dog coalition – has forced Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-California) to delay scheduled votes on the bill several times this week.