Senate HELP Commitee Completes Health Bill
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee "has passed legislation to revamp health care, becoming the first congressional committee to act on President Barack Obama's goal of overhauling the system this year," the Associated Press reports. The committee voted "13-10 along party lines to pass a $600-billion measure that would expand coverage to nearly all Americans by requiring individuals get insurance and employers to contribute to the cost" (Alonso-Zaldivar, 7/15).
The bill "seeks to expand coverage to much of the 46 million uninsured Americans, adds a government-run healthcare program, requires most Americans to obtain health insurance, and mandates most employers to provide it to their workers," Reuters reports.
"It's not inexpensive, but it's a lot less expensive than the predictions were earlier," said acting committee chairman Senator Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., who is leading the bill in the absence of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass (Dixon and Frank, 7/15).
Boston Globe: "Senator Judd Gregg, a New Hampshire Republican, told reporters that Democrats on the committee had 'struck out' on healthcare by passing a bill that leaves millions of Americans uncovered and that could cost workers their jobs by burdening businesses" (Rhee, 7/15).
Politico: "The HELP bill now faces its toughest task being merged with a Finance Committee effort," with which "Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) has been struggling for weeks about how to pay for the $1 trillion overhaul effort. Dodd declined to specify which aspects of his package widely considered to be more liberal than what the Finance Committee would find acceptable could be merged" (Isentadt, 7/15).
President Obama released a statement praising the committee's approval of its version of health reform legislation. "The HELP committee's success should give us hope, but it should not give us pause. It should instead provide the urgency for both the House and Senate to finish their critical work on health reform before the August recess" (7/15).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.