CRITICAL CONDITION: The final vote for health care reform

CRITICAL CONDITION: The final vote for health care

TAMPA, FL -- Just like he did one year ago, President Obama stood at a podium flanked by doctors. Today, the only difference was this curtain call will likely be the final act for health care reform.

"This is where we've ended up. It's an approach that has been debated and changed and I believe improved over the past year," the President said.

Today the President said his approach improved thanks in part to Republican ideas he adopted after last week's seven hour health care summit.

They include expanding the use of health savings accounts, boosting Medicaid reimbursements to doctors, providing funding to crack down on Medicare and Medicaid fraud, and pilot programs to address and examine medical malpractice reform.

"This is it. This is the point at which democrats have to act," says Professor Scott Paine, Chair of Communications at the University of Tampa.

Paine says the passage of health care reform will make or break Democrats. Today he says, was the last chance for Obama to frame the final vote, which he did, calling for Democrats to push it through the Senate with a simple majority.

"Now it deserves the same kind of up or down vote that was cast on welfare reform, that was cast on the Children's Health Insurance Program, that was used for Cobra health coverage for the unemployed and by the way for both Bush tax cuts," Obama said.

The simple up or down vote is also known as reconciliation.

"Even the Republican minority recognizes that it's not unprecedented. But, it sounds bad if you say they used a legislative trick to pass the bill. It sounds very reasonable if you say we were being prevented from doing what the American people wanted us to do by a small minority of members in the Senate," Paine says.

But the despite the changes, the minority isn't flinching.

"It's overwhelmingly unpopular and the impression the American people are getting is that the administration and the majority are being very arrogant about this," says Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

We also reached out to our Republican Senator George LeMieux to see if the changes would win over his support.

In an emailed statement, LeMieux said, "This proposal still seeks to cut half a trillion dollars from Medicare. That's a direct cut in health care benefits for seniors. The proposal fails to achieve its main goal, which is to lower the cost of health care for Americans. It takes money from programs, like Medicare, and seeks to create new federal programs. It is clear that the American people do not support this bill."

President Obama asked Congress to schedule a final vote within the next few weeks.
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