Last week, the full Senate began what promises to be a lengthy debate over an $849 billion bill (HR 3590) to overhaul the healthcare industry. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, (D-NV), tnew lawmakers that he planned to work weekends and hold late-night sessions in hopes of the Senate passing the legislation before Christmas.

Reid needs to ensure that 60 lawmakers will vote for the bill before he can move to end debate and hold a final vote. With the public option looming as a deal buster, Reid is expected to work closely with members who remain adamantly opposed to inclusion of a public program.

A just-released Congressional Budget Office report on the impact of health reform legislation on premium costs indicated that individuals could see increases of 10 to 13 percent by 2016, although those costs would be lowered in some instances by government subsidies. The report also indicated that the 45-percent surtax on high-end insurance plans would impact 19 percent of employer group plans by 2016.