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Health Reform: A Timeline

The latest battle over how to overhaul the U.S. health-care system intensified last fall with the election of Barack Obama


Health insurers agree to guarantee coverage for all Americans, even those with preexisting medical conditions, if government mandates all individuals must purchase insurance.

MARCH 2009

Obama formally kicks off his reform campaign with a White House gathering of members of Congress and industry officials. He vows that special interests will not derail change this time.

MAY 2009

UnitedHealth CEO Stephen Hemsley meets with senior White House officials, explaining the company's ideas for cutting up to $540 billion over 10 years in federal health-care spending.

JUNE 2009

UnitedHealth officials continue lobbying moderate Democrats in the House and Senate, arguing against a government-run insurer and promoting their proposals for paring health-care costs.

JULY 2009

Douglas Elmendorf, director of the Congressional Budget Office, delivers a damaging assessment of congressional Democrats' efforts to reduce health spending, saying that lawmakers could actually push costs higher.


Congress fails to approve legislation before its summer break. Amid declining poll numbers, Obama trims expectations, and the battle shifts to town hall meetings and the airwaves.

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