Mass. House, Senate Reported Close to Final Health Reform Terms

March 16, 2006

House and Senate negotiators in Massachusetts are nearing a final deal on a health care reform package, Senate President Robert Travaglini said Tuesday.

“The biggest obstacle that we’re left with is just fine tuning the language and the definitions and preparing it for debate on the floor,” Travaglini told reporters.

The six-member House and Senate conference committee met for about seven or eight hours behind closed doors Monday and were meeting again Tuesday, according to Senate Ways and Means Chairman Therese Murray, D-Plymouth.

There’s still plenty of work left even after agreement is reached on the biggest issues, she said.

“Once we agree to agree on the last remaining things that are out there the actual writing of the bill is going to take an extensive amount of time,” Murray said.

The committee’s movement came after Travaglini and House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi, both Boston Democrats, announced earlier this month they had ended a legislative impasse that had threatened to kill the bill.

On Monday, Gov. Mitt Romney said he has yet to decide whether he favors a provision of the bill that would assess a fee on companies that don’t provide health insurance to their workers.

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