It's taken quite a while to get to this point, but Congress' pace on healthcare reform legislation has suddenly sped up. In fact, by sometime this week, we may have a clear picture of what the final bill will look like.
This is because Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has reportedly finished merging the various Senate bills. He's scheduled to hold a press conference about the legislation at 3:15 p.m. EDT on Monday, and is also reportedly sending the bill to the Congressional Budget Office, which will "score" it -- that is, evaluate how much it will cost, its effect on the deficit and how many previously uninsured Americans will be covered if it passes. Reid is also expected to unveil the bill for his caucus on Tuesday.
There is one potential snag remaining, however -- the question of what kind of public option will be included, if any. The White House reportedly favors the "trigger" plan, largely because it's backed by Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, while Reid is said to be pushing for an alternative that would begin a government-run insurer soon but allow individual states to opt out. We'll see at the press conference what the story is there, but there is one report that Reid is in fact sending "several visions of a bill" to the CBO, and will also present those to the Senate Democrats.