MIDDLE GROUND

Next Up: Health-Care Compromise

Although the Senate passed health-care legislation Christmas Eve by a vote of 60-39 and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says, "We stand on the doorstep of history," the work is far from over. The bill now moves to the more liberal House, and the longstanding differences between ideas of reform will be a difficult compromise. Democrats are already strategizing ways to achieve a successful vote so the bill can move forward. To do so, a substitute for a government-run insurance plan for those who cannot afford private medical coverage must be presented. The Senate previously rejected the "public option," but Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) says the House has to be "absolutely convinced that this is going to accomplish the goal of holding down the cost of health insurance." One solution is the creation of two or more nationwide insurance plans run by private companies (but monitored by the Office of Personnel Management), which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi already signed off on. Other ideas are in the works, but Reid says further details will not be revealed until both chambers reconvene. As for now, he simply wants to "just sit back and watch my rabbits eat my cactus."