Health Care Bill 2009: What’s the Update?
In a rare overnight session, the Senate voted last night in favor of President Obama’s new health care bill. The vote was 60-40, with every Democrat voting for the bill and every Republican voting against it. According to CNN, the Senate will hold more procedural votes on the health care bill this week, with a final vote scheduled for Christmas Eve.
Obama said the step brought the nation closer to health care reform that would make “a tremendous difference” to Americans by lowering health care costs and eliminating controversial practices by insurance companies to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions or exceeding benefit caps. Republicans claim it will increase the budget deficit, but Obama said, “that argument that opponents are making against this bill does not hold water.” The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says the Senate bill will reduce the deficit by $132 billion in the first 10 years.
If the bill passes, as expected, the Senate version would then be merged with the House health care bill passed last month. Both chambers would then have to approve the final measure before sending it to Obama to be signed into law. The House plan is more expansive (and therefore expensive), including a government-run health insurance plan (AKA “public option”) that was dropped from the Senate bill.
The two plans also disagree on how to pay for health care; the House package is financed through a combination of a tax surcharge on wealthy Americans and new Medicare spending reductions. The Senate bill also cuts Medicare by roughly $500 billion, but does not include a tax surcharge on the wealthy. It would instead impose a 40 percent tax on so-called “Cadillac” health plans.
Now you can impress your family at the holiday dinner table with your vast knowledge of the health care debate!