>Dems tell Obama: Let’s pass healthcare reform in ’09

>Well, it seems as though as soon as the stimulus bill is passed by congress the next order of bussiness for the Dems is to pass healthcare reform.

The Obama administration may lack a czar to lead its health reform campaign but two key senators are telling the president that they are ready to pass a bill this year.

In a letter sent to President Obama on Thursday, Sens. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Max Baucus (D-Mont.) assert the need to act quickly to overhaul the U.S. healthcare system.

“We are writing to affirm our continuing commitment to enacting comprehensive healthcare reform this year,” wrote Kennedy and Baucus, who chair two committees that will take the lead in drafting legislation to carry out Obama’s health agenda.

The abrupt departure of Obama’s close adviser and first choice to head his administration’s health reform efforts, former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), is a setback for the new administration.

Kennedy and Baucus want to maintain the momentum they have tried to build over the last several months, during which the two senators have worked with fellow lawmakers and interest groups to build the foundation to revamp the healthcare system.

In the letter, the two senators urge Obama not to take his eyes off the prize.

“As you have emphasized, we must act now,” Kennedy and Baucus wrote. “We have a moral duty to ensure that every American can get quality healthcare.… With your continued leadership and commitment, we remain certain that our goal of enacting comprehensive healthcare reform can be accomplished this year.”

The senators acknowledge the importance of the president naming a replacement for Daschle, who withdrew from his nomination as secretary of Health and Human Services amid controversy over unpaid taxes.

The letter, Kennedy and Baucus say, also aims to “express our confidence that you will swiftly choose an exceptionally qualified and dedicated alternate nominee for secretary of Health and Human Services to assist in our efforts.”

Though Daschle’s withdrawal is merely two days old, speculation has run rampant about whom Obama might select for the healthcare post. Among the names being circulated around Washington are Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D), former Vermont governor and former Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean, Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

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Filed under healthcare reform, President Obama, secretary of Health and Human Services, Senator Max Baucus, Ted Kennedy, Tom Daschle

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