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White House says America on 'Verge' of Health Care Reform


White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs (file photo)

One big hurdle remains before the needed legislation can be signed into law.

The White House says the American people are on the "verge" of health-care reform. One big hurdle remains before the needed legislation can be signed into law.

This may be the most difficult part of all.

When Congress returns in the new year, negotiators for the House and Senate will begin the tough task of merging their different versions of health-care reform legislation into one bill the president can sign.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs (file photo)
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs (file photo)

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs is optimistic. "I think the American people are on the verge of a very big win in health care reform early in the next year," he said.

He told the NBC television program Meet the Press that both the Senate and House versions of the bill achieve the main goal set by the president: making health care more affordable and accessible for all Americans.

"The major parts of health-care reform that the president sought to have enacted as a candidate are now very close to happening and he thinks the commonality between the two proposals overlaps quite a bit," said Gibbs.

But they differ on one major point. Most Americans now pay for health care through private insurance. The House wants a government-run health care program to compete in the insurance marketplace. The Senate does not.

Senator Robert Menendez - a New Jersey Democrat - served for many years in the House and has some advice for his former colleagues.

He spoke on the Fox News Sunday television program. "I am sure there will be some compromises but at the end of the day, I would expect that it would look very much like the Senate version," said Menendez.

Republicans maintain both versions of the bills are bad. All the members of the minority party voted against the Senate measure, and only one supported the legislation passed in the House.

South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint told Fox News that the fight over health-care reform is far from over. "And the only think worse than the policy itself has been the process that the Democrats have followed to get this passed," he said.

He said special deals were struck with some Democratic Senators to get them to support the bill.

Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter - who switched parties from Republican to Democrat earlier this year - says the Democratic Party leadership had no choice.

"I think the process was very bad, but the process was really caused in large measure by the refusal of Republicans to deal in any way," he said.

Specter also appeared on Fox News Sunday.