So to get health reform passed before Scott Brown is seated as the junior senator from Massachusetts, it looks like the House might pass Senate bill unchanged. Democrats from both chambers have been negotiating behind the scenes for weeks, and the dickering could have made the final bill better -- especially in terms of cost control.
But the need for speed makes it probable that the Senate bill will be the final bill -- if there's any final bill at all. Unlike the House bill, the Senate bill contains no public option. Neither does the Senate bill finance new coverage with a surtax on the wealthy the way the House measure does. Instead it slaps an excise tax on so-called Cadillac health insurance plans. Meanwhile Virginia Democrat Sen. Jim Webb has called for a suspension on all health care votes until Brown is seated.