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FACTBOX: Government players in US healthcare debate

(Reuters) - U.S. lawmakers are beginning to craft legislation to overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system, a top priority for President Barack Obama. Democrats, who control Congress, hope to pass a bill by the end of the year.

Here are some major government and congressional players who may have a key role in shaping the reform legislation:

*Kathleen Sebelius, Health and Human Services Secretary, leads Obama’s push to enact by the end of this year an overhaul of the $2.5 trillion U.S. healthcare industry. The former Kansas governor previously served as her state’s health insurance commissioner for eight years.

*Nancy-Ann DeParle, director of White House Office of Health Reform, is charged with coordinating reform efforts with Congress. A former Clinton administration official, DeParle headed the Health Care Financing Administration (now Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services). She was also a Commissioner of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, an agency that advises Congress on Medicare issues.

*Rahm Emanuel, White House Chief of Staff, is a former Illinois congressman. He was chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, fourth in the hierarchy of House Democratic leaders, before joining the Obama administration. Emanuel was a senior adviser to President Clinton.

House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her number two, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, have vowed to pass an overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system before Congress breaks for its August recess.

*Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, Montana Democrat, and the panel’s senior Republican, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, have taken the lead in the debate, playing key roles in writing legislation aimed at reducing soaring costs and expanding coverage to an estimated 46 million Americans who lack health insurance.

*Senate Health Committee Chairman Edward Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat, has been a leader in the Senate on health care reform, pushing for a Patient’s Bill of Rights and an expansion of Medicare, to lower prescription drugs cost. It’s unclear how active a role Kennedy may play as he has an incurable brain tumor.

*Sen. Mike Enzi of Wyoming, senior Republican on the Senate Health panel, advocates for bipartisan support for healthcare reform. But Enzi says government-run healthcare is not the answer. He has introduced a bill listing 10 steps to “market-based solutions.”

*House Energy and Commerce committee chairman Henry Waxman, a California Democrat, has championed reform efforts, including expand of coverage for children, seniors, persons with disabilities, and low-income families.

*Joe Barton of Texas, the senior Republican on the House Energy panel, says ensuring that Americans are able to afford the care they need is an important priority. He believes a more market-based approach will lead to greater flexibility, efficiency, and lower costs.

*House Ways and Means chairman Charles Rangel, a New York Democrat, supports an expansion of healthcare to include Americans who lack coverage. He says the United States must provide for children and working people the same kind of coverage Medicare provides for the elderly.

*Rep Dave Camp of Michigan, the senior Republican on the House Ways and Means panel, says Republican lawmakers are ready to work with the Democratic majority, but says the Democrats are making reform a partisan issue. Camp says it can and should be done without making the government the sole provider.

Reporting by JoAnne Allen; editing by Maggie Fox and Alan Elsner

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