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Some Education Groups Less Happy With New Health Care Bill

The National Education Association, which is pouring money and manpower into the effort led by Democrats to overhaul the health care system, is less than thrilled with the new bill released earlier this week by the Senate Finance Committee.

The nation's largest union put out a statement today saying that the proposal "does not meet the guidelines set by President Obama in his speech to Congress last week. The bill fails to provide affordable coverage for the 46 million uninsured through a public option, and will raise costs even more for middle-income workers."

In addition to the affordability issue, NEA is disappointed the bill doesn't include a public option. Under the House measure, a government-run plan would compete with private insurance for the business of folks who don't get insurance through their employer.

Three House committees have also approved a bill, which the union supports. But the Senate Finance Committee's effort is widely viewed as the likely compromise vehicle, so groups like the NEA are watching it especially closely.

Will the union's opposition lead to big changes in the final product? Hard to say, but it may be important for Democratic leaders that groups like the NEA support their bill, particularly if there aren't any GOP takers. Of course, leaders are also working hard to get moderate Democrats on board, who might have a different view from the NEA's.

And the NEA isn't the only education organization that found something to dislike in the Finance Committee legislation. Unlike the House measure, it doesn't appear to include a provision that would expand school-based health centers, disappointing advocates of those programs.

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