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Healthcare bill may be stalled by year-end legislative crunch

Bloomberg, November 25, 2009

Raising the U.S. government's $12.2 trillion borrowing limit tops an agenda of must-pass legislation that imperils Senate Democrats' ability to pass a healthcare bill this year. As the senators struggle to meet President Barack Obama's year-end deadline to overhaul the health system, they must also act to keep the government running and prevent a 21% drop in payments to doctors who treat Medicare patients. They need to approve measures to avert a Dec. 31 expiration of the estate tax, extend jobless benefits, and renew key provisions of the anti-terrorism USA Patriot Act. Pushing the measure into 2010 may create problems for Democrats because Republicans would have more opportunity to make the overhaul an issue in the congressional election year.