It's clear that President-elect Barack Obama's administration aims to hit the Oval Office running when it comes to health care reform. In naming Tom Daschle –who wrote the book Critical, calling for a bold and comprehensive insurance plan, as secretary of health and human services, Obama signaled his intent to move fast. And leading Democrats wasted no time post-election in preparing a bill to immediately introduce after Inauguration Day. Rather than putting health care on the back burner while focusing on economic stimulus legislation, congressional proponents and industry experts are promoting it as an important part of any recovery plan. "The economic problems call for dramatic changes," says Linda Havlin, a worldwide partner at Mercer Health & Benefits. With ideological opposites–from Fortune 500 CEOs to union leaders–supporting change and a Democrat-led Congress, she adds: "There is perfect alignment of the sun, moon and stars."

Or so hope many business leaders who, for the most, applauded Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus' (D-Mont.) and Education, Health, Labor and Pension Committee Chairman Edward Kennedy's (D-Mass.) efforts in the supposedly lame duck congress to create a consensus bill.

Most plan sponsors and C-suite executives are said to want to see employers remain the primary insurance providers (a plan favored by Obama) but with no reduction in tax benefits (Baucus has hinted at a cap) for the employer or employee. They also endorse a national exchange that would make health care more affordable for the 46 million uninsured and a nationwide program to reform out-of-control medical spending.

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