Critical Condition

Gone Is the A-Word?

The White House appears to be weaning itself off August:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said in an interview on Friday he expected a final healthcare bill by the end of the year and that negotiations in the U.S. Congress now focus on controlling costs.

“I think we will have a bill by the end of the year for the president to sign on healthcare reform that controls costs, expands coverage and provides choice,” Emanuel told National Public Radio.

The reform package under construction in both chambers of Congress has been besieged from all sides by criticism of its more than $1 trillion price tag and its scope, with debates behind closed doors over how to pay for the program and rein in healthcare costs.

President Barack Obama had asked the Senate and House of Representatives to pass initial versions before leaving for the summer recess to help keep opposition from building. But Senate leaders have said their version was likely to be debated in September.

“The key thing is … we are now debating how to control costs,” Emanuel told NPR. “We are down to the final details. Those details matter. But we … I think are making progress.”

Speaking of ways to control costs, Emanuel said the White House is urging Congress to include a plan for an outside commission on health care costs cutting.

“If you want to control costs, one of the things the president talked about is to have a group of health experts to ensure that, in fact, the changes that are necessary to the system so the system is more efficient, more cost effective, are done.”

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