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Health Reform 101: A Quick Refresher

With so many months of debate over health reform, much of it focused on politics, it's not surprising that many people have forgotten (or never really knew) what, exactly, is in the health care overhaul measure that President Obama is now pushing — hard, according to today's New York Times.

So NPR's Julie Rovner, offers a short refresher on what the bill is about, including the skinny on insurance mandates, help for poor and low-income folks through Medicaid and so-called "exchanges."

Of course, politics are still driving the debate, Rovner reports:

Now House Democrats are being asked to cast a vote for the bill the Senate passed Christmas Eve. And, at least initially, they'll have to approve that Senate bill with no changes.

That means, as Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) reminded everyone at last month's meeting, "It still has the sweetheart deals in it. ... I mean, what's fair about taxpayers in Louisiana paying less than taxpayers in Tennessee? And what's fair about protecting seniors in Florida and not protecting seniors in California and Illinois and Wyoming?"

Alexander was referring to several deals cut by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to win the 60 Democratic votes needed to get the bill passed by the Senate.

Of course, here's where this process gets even more complicated. Those so-called sweetheart deals are expected to be cancelled in a second bill. That so-called fix bill will carry the compromises now being made between the Senate and the House. That bill is also likely to alter the way the health care program is paid for.

But that second bill is still being drafted, and House Democrats are skittish about its ultimate prospects. Don't expect a House vote on the Senate bill until they get some assurances about what that second bill will do — and that the Senate can actually pass it.

This program aired on March 9, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

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