Baucus Healthcare Bill Passes Committee

Crossposted with the RMC blog

After months of negotiations the Senate Finance Committee passed its Healthy American Future Bill today.

The voting was along party lines, with the exception of Republican Maine Senator Olympia Snowe: 14 to 9.

Senator Snowe has long been an important vote for RMC. She stood up against anti-choice amendments during the debate that her Republican colleagues offered. She has this to say about the bill:

“Is this bill all that I would want? Far from it. Is it all that it can be? No. But when history calls, history calls..The mark before us produces some bipartisan landmark reforms. It bolsters what works in the system and engenders quality and competition..At the same time I have shared my Republicans’ concerns about vast governmental bureaucracies and governmental intrusions – that’s why I opposed the amendment for the so-called public option..I happen to think that the consequences of inaction dictate the urgency of Congress to take every opportunity to demonstrate its capacity to solve the monumental issues of our time..There are many, many miles to go in this legislative journey.”

So what is in this bill?

  • It expands Medicaid.
  • It creates a new state-ran insurance exchange for people making 200% less than the Federal poverty line.
  • It provides subsides for middle income families through an insurance exchange.
  • It mandates Americans have coverage.
  • It reforms insurance companies from being able to deny coverage because of pre-existing conditions.
  • It does not mandate or deny insurance companies that qualify for federal subsidies or participate in the state exchanges to cover abortion care.
  • It extends the Medicaid state option we have been working for that would reduce red tape for states who want to extend reproductive health coverage.
  • The bill does not include a pubic option.

According to the Congressional Budget Office the bill would cost $849 billion over 10 years; there would still be 25 million uninsured (one-third of which are illegal immigrants).

So now what?

Now Senate Majority leader Harry Reid (NV) will take this bill and the bill that came out of the HELP Committee this summer and merge them together. He has already said no Republicans will be invited to participate in this backdoor dealing.

After that, a new bill will be taken to the floor for a debate and voted upon by the whole Senate. At this point, we will likely see all of the anti-choice amendments come up again- meaning abortion coverage is still not safe. This could happen as early as the week of October 19th.

Over in the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi is at the finessing stage, melding together three committee bills. Again, no Republicans are being counseled in this secretive dealing. The word is she also planning to take the final bill up with the full House in mid-October.

What do you think about this? Tell us in the comments below!

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