Senate Finance Committee Plans Tuesday Vote As Lawmakers Crunch Numbers
The New York Times reports Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., that the Finance Committee will vote on a proposed health care reform bill. "Mr. Reid's announcement that the committee would vote next Tuesday came a day after the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said the committee's version of health legislation would provide coverage to 29 million uninsured Americans (at a cost of $829 billion over a decade) but would still pare future federal deficits by slowing the growth of spending on medical care" (Pear and Herszenhorn, 10/8).
The Los Angeles Times: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Thursday "that Democrats had yet to craft a package that could win 60 votes, and that until they did, any claims that the package would dramatically shrink the ranks of the uninsured while lowering the budget deficit were 'irrelevant'" (10/9).
The Wall Street Journal: "After the committee vote, Senate Democratic leaders, in concert with the White House, will blend the Finance bill with more liberal legislation approved by the Senate health committee" (Hitt and Adamy, 10/9).
CongressDaily reports that moderate Democrats in the Senate are wary of the cost of the Baucus bill: "Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., was skeptical of CBO's analysis that the bill would be deficit neutral and reduce the federal deficit $81 billion without 'some alternatives that actually have some teeth in them in terms of making sure that Congress honors the commitments of fiscal responsibility that are implicit in this bill.' Bayh is co-leader of the 16-member Moderate Dems Working Group." Similarly Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., said he doesn't believe the CBO numbers (Edney, 10/9).
Such skepticism highlights the continuing hurdles for the reform effort. The Associated Press reports: "Now the challenge for the White House and Democratic leaders is to rewrite (the Finance Committee bill) by Christmas in ways that can command a congressional majority, without running afoul of administration specifications" (Espo, 10/9).
CBS News looks at the deficit reduction in the bill, although Republicans still oppose the legislation: "'The fact is the numbers are arrived at by taxing businesses, by taxing people who have insurance, as well as cutting benefits for seniors,' said Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va. 'That's not an acceptable health care reform recipe'" (Cordes, 10/8).
Finally, a new Pew Research Center survey found that 47 percent of the public opposes health care reforms in Congress while only 34 support them and 19 percent are undecided, Politics Daily reports. "That said, support is remaining steady for specific proposals: 82 percent favored requiring insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions, compared to 79 percent in July." A Quinnipiac University poll makes similar assertions, Politics Daily reports (Drake, 10/8).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.