Senate Health Care Reform Moves Forward As GOP Filibuster Fails

Senator Harry Reid

In the early hours of Monday morning, the Republican effort to block the Senate version of Health Care Reform legislation failed on a 60-40 vote.  There will be several votes to follow, but this was the big one. Later this week the final bill will be the subject of a simple majority vote, which is expected to pass and send the bill to conference committee to reconcile with the House bill.

There are some major differences between the House and Senate bills. Among those are the Public Option, language in the House version that restricts the ability of any health insurance plan to pay for reproductive choice, and the way the program will be funded. In conference, every provison is on the table. It will be up to the House and Senate negotiators to come up with a bill that will pase both houses. That will be no small task. No doubt there will be a lot of heel digging before we see the end of the debate and a final vote some time in January.

The Orange County Register’s Dena Bunis has the following comparison in her post this morning:

Click here to go to Reid’s Web site and read the text of the bill and his amendment with the latest changes. Here are some of the highlights, including how the Senate and House bills compare.

  • The Senate bill would cost $871 billion and cut the deficit by $132 billion over a decade, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. The House bill would cost $1 trillion and cut the deficit by $139 billion over the same period.
  • Both bills includes a mandate for Americans to buy health insurance.
  • The Senate bill does not have a public option. The House bill does.
  • Both create insurance exchanges. Under the Senate bill, the states  create these groups and can opt out if they don’t want to create exchanges. The House bill creates a national exchange.
  • Both create subsidies for people with incomes up to 400 percent of poverty ($88,200 for a family of four) to help them pay the costs of insurance premiums.
  • The Senate bill would cover 31 million of the uninsured. The House bill would insure 36 million people who now aren’t covered.
  • Both say federal funds will not be used to pay for abortions. The House language is more restrictive.
  • Both bills ban illegal immigrants from getting federal subsidies. The House bill allows undocumented people to buy insurance from the exchange with their own money. The Senate bill prohibits that.

Here is the video from the Today Show report this morning.

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Howard Dean on Meet the Press Sunday told David Gregory that “the bill is better than it was, but it still has a long way to go.” When Gregory asked Dean if he would still not vote for the bill if he were in the Senate Dean said; ”I would certainly not vote for this bill if this were the final product. But there are–the House bill is a–quite a good bill.  This bill has improved over the last couple of weeks.  I would let this thing go to conference committee and let’s see if we can fix it some more.”

Below is the complete Meet the Press interview with Dean.

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So Harry Reid got his wish and the Senate will pass it’s weak version of Health Care Reform in time for him to wrap it up in a bow and give it to us for Christmas. I just hope we won’t have to wait in line to return it for a refund when the final bill comes out of conference.