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Reid Aims to Begin Senate Health Care Debate Next Week

BY Lea Winerman  November 13, 2009 at 5:41 PM EST

Sen. Harry Reid

Reid wants to move the bill forward “as soon as we can,” his spokeswoman Regan Lachapelle told MarketWatch. But he is still waiting for the Congressional Budget Office to come up with its cost estimate for the bill. That estimate is expected, but not guaranteed, to come early next week.

Reid is also still working to round up the 60 votes necessary to start floor debate and eventually pass the measure in the Senate — meaning he needs the support of all 58 Democrats and two Independents.

Several provisions included in the Senate Finance Committee bill remain subject to debate. Some moderate Democrats have said that they cannot support a bill that includes a government-run public insurance plan — even one that allows states to opt out.

Other Democrats, and labor organizations, are upset that the legislation includes a proposed tax on high-value “Cadillac” insurance plans.

So Reid has spent the week floating other financing and public plan options, in bid to see what will get him to 60 votes.

NewsHour health correspondent Betty Ann Bowser has more details on the week’s developments in this reporter’s podcast: