CHN: Senate Finance Committee Approves Health Bill
On October 12 the Senate Finance Committee approved, 14-9, a draft health care reform bill. Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) was the only Republican who voted in favor of the measure. (For a brief review of what is included in the Finance proposal see the October 2 Human Needs Report). Now it is up to Senate leaders to craft a bill that marries the Finance and Health, Education, Labor and Pensions bills together, which will not be easy. According to Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT), one of the main Senate negotiators, there are some major issues still to be resolved including whether to include a public option; how to pay for the package; how to ensure affordability; and what level of employer responsibility to demand. Advocates hope they will develop a final bill that best protects low-income and vulnerable people (view a letter the Coalition on Human Needs sent to Senate negotiators)
Senate leaders have not given a definitive date when the bill will be on the Senate floor. In the House, leaders continue to work to merge the three bills from Energy and Commerce, Education and Labor, and Ways and Means. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) indicated that House action on a final bill may not occur until sometime in November.