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Conrad: Health care bill is a step forward

BISMARCK (AP) -- Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., says the health care bill before the U.S. Senate includes his plan for nonprofit cooperatives and he sees it as a step forward.

The 10-year, $848-billion proposal faces a key floor vote later this week.

In a statement Thursday, Conrad said the bill includes a so-called public option, but he said it does not put North Dakota at a disadvantage by tying reimbursement to Medicare rates.

He said it includes his plan for private, nonprofit health care cooperatives to offer another choice for health care.

Conrad's statement said he would work to improve the bill and that, "While not perfect, the Senate bill is a step in the right direction."

The Congressional Budget Office said the bill would produce a net reduction of $130 billion in federal deficits in its first decade.

A link to the bill is on Conrad's Web site: