WASHINGTON (CNN) - The health care reform debate reached a new milestone Tuesday as a key congressional committee passed an $829 billion plan projected to extend coverage to an additional 29 million Americans.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/10/13/senate.health.care/art.obama.cnn.jpg caption=""Now's not the time to pat ourselves on the back," President Obama says at the White House on Tuesday."]
he Senate Finance Committee's bill would subsidize insurance for poorer Americans, establish nonprofit health care cooperatives, and create health insurance exchanges to make it easier for small groups and individuals to purchase coverage.
Among other things, it would cap annual out-of-pocket expenses and prevent insurance companies from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions.
The plan is financed by a combination of reductions in spending for Medicare and other government programs, as well as higher taxes on expensive insurance policies and new fees on the health industry.
The committee passed its long-awaited plan Tuesday with a 14-9 vote. Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, was the lone committee member to cross party lines, breaking with other Republicans to vote for the measure. All the committee's Democrats supported the bill.
The Senate Finance Committee's health care reform bill got high marks from the Congressional Budget Office for keeping the deficit down, but now insurance companies say it will actually cost you and your family thousands of dollars more than you’re paying now.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/10/13/potter.wendell.art.jpg caption="Wendell Potter says the insurance industry has been disingenuous from the beginning of the health care reform debate."]
Wendell Potter worked for two different insurance companies in the past, and now he's working against them to help get reform passed. He says the claims from this new report from an insurance industry trade group are just not true.
Potter spoke to John Roberts on CNN’s “American Morning” Tuesday. Below is an edited transcript of that interview.
John Roberts: On March 5th, at a White house conference on health care reform, Karen Ignani, who is the president and CEO of AHIP – American's Health Insurance Plans – stands up and addresses the president. She says, “We want to work with you. We want to work with the members of Congress on a bipartisan basis here. You have our commitment.”
So just six months ago, Wendell, there was American's Health Insurance Plans standing up, saying we want to work with you on health care reform. Just yesterday they came out with this study, this PricewaterhouseCoopers report, which is a scathing criticism of the so-called Baucus Bill in the Senate Finance Committee. What changed between then and now?
Wendell Potter: You know, what happened on that March day – that summit at the White House – was what made me decide to become a critic of the industry, because that was the beginning of their charm offensive, the part of the PR campaign that they want us to see, they want us to hear. And what we saw – what we're seeing now is the other side of that; their efforts behind the scenes and now more publicly to defeat reform. And it's all an effort to try to shape reform, if they can, or kill it if they can, but shape it for their benefit and at the benefit of Wall Street shareholders, more than Americans.
In just a matter of hours, the Senate Finance Committee will vote on an $829 billion health care reform plan.
There's no government-run insurance option in this one, but supporters say it would extend coverage to 94 percent of Americans, and prevent insurance companies from discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions.
The other big promise – this plan wouldn't add a dime to the federal deficit.
Finance Committee Chairman Senator Max Baucus says he has the votes to pass it, but this morning there's a new snag: an eleventh hour attack by the insurance industry, which claims this plan could saddle American families with huge, new expenses. CNN's Jim Acosta reports.
TOKYO, Japan (CNN) - An American father jailed in Tokyo has been harshly treated, his attorney said Monday, while Japanese authorities said he is getting "special" treatment.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/10/12/japan.savoie.custody.battle/art.father.wtvf.jpg caption="Christopher Savoie is in jail in Japan after trying to get back his son, Isaac, and daughter, Rebecca."]
Attorney Jeremy Morley, in a statement released Monday, said Christopher Savoie - accused of trying to kidnap his children after his ex-wife took them to Japan - is being held without trial, interrogated without an attorney present and denied needed medical treatment for high blood pressure.
Savoie has also been exposed to sleep deprivation, and denied private meetings with attorneys and phone calls to his wife, according to Morley, who said the way his client has been treated amounts to "torture."
He acknowledged that some of the claims are based on second-hand information from Savoie's wife, Amy, saying she has communicated with people familiar with her husband's case.
Police in Yanagawa, a rural town in southern Japan where Savoie is being held, denied the allegations in Morley's statement, saying Savoie gets regular visits by a physician and medicine as prescribed.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/10/13/limbaugh.rush.gi.art.jpg caption="Limbaugh wants to own the St. Louis Rams."]
Rush Limbaugh has never been shy with his opinions about the National Football League... or anything else really.
Now he wants to put his money where his mouth is. The conservative radio host announced last week he's part of a bid to buy the NFL's St. Louis Rams.
Some critics are lining up to block the bid, saying his comments in the past should be held against him now.
So what do you think? Should Rush Limbaugh be allowed to own an NFL team? Sound off on our show hot line 1-877-MY-AMFIX.