Governor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts has named Paul G. Kirk, a democrat, as an interim U.S. senator for the state, which will likely swing the Senate vote on Obama’s healthcare proposal.
Democrats would need 60 votes in the 100-member Senate to override Republican opposition on President Obama’s healthcare proposition. Kirk’s immediate appointment gives the Democrats this critical 60th vote.
Obama is lobbying for the formation of an insurance marketplace which would allow Americans who do not have health insurance through their employers to buy coverage. The new system would combine private insurers and a public option to promote competition and reduces the price of coverage.
Senator Tom Harkin, a democrat from Iowa who took over Senator Kennedy’s position as chairman of the Senate health committee, told Reuters, "I’m convinced we’re going to have a healthcare reform bill on the president’s desk before we go home for Christmas."
Republicans have countered the Obama administration’s proposal with a three-pronged plan which includes making healthcare more affordable, making it more accessible, and promoting healthy lifestyles and higher quality care.