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President Obama Unveils Plan for Healthcare Reform BY LAUREN UZDIENSKI, FEBRUARY 22, 2010

This morning President Obama announced his plan for reforming healthcare. The proposal is similar to the legislation the Senate passed late last year, though it includes some concessions to the House, and the president describes it as "[bridging] the gap" between the two chambers.

The plan offers no public insurance option, but it would set up a public health insurance exchange. Certain insurance reforms would be implemented, including eliminating the practice of denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions. Additionally, the federal government will provide increased funding to states to support Medicare.

President Obama's proposal can also be interpreted as favorable to device companies. The plan will levy an excise tax on device sales, similar to the the tax passed in the House legislation, which is generally thought to be preferable to the Senate's plan of charging manufacturers an annual fee appropriated by market share. The tax is expected to raise $20 billion over the next decade. The tax would not be implemented until 2013.

The president promises that the proposal, which is expected to cost $950 billion, will reduce the deficit by $100 billion over the next ten years "by cutting government overspending and reining in waste, fraud and abuse."

Plans for an overhaul of the healthcare system have been stalled since Senator Scott Brown's election in Massachusetts last month, and the president's proposal is an effort to get reform legislation moving again. Leaders from both chambers will convene to discuss the new plan on Thursday.

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