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October 13th, 2009
08:47 PM ET

Senate panel OKs health plan with one GOP backer

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.

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Filed under: Politics
soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. ralph esposito

    For one political party, reform means letting so called health care providers stand between you and your doctor while crying that the government should not in a non-profit company. These are the same politicians that said that the financial market and industry should voluntarily police itself because they are so honest and good at it. Real reform means that EVERY American has the same health care as every member of Congress. You can bet your life that congress really cares for that!

    October 15, 2009 at 9:47 am |
  2. Father Tom Michael

    WIth all this money spent by the insurance companies for lobying, I guess I can expect my deductable to rise again. There should be a law against subscribers having to foot the bill for money spent by the insurers to protect their profit lines. They throw our money around like water and then expect us to cough it up (pun intended).

    October 15, 2009 at 6:49 am |
  3. Fred Nielsen

    Unfortunately without a public option the insurance companies will just rape the people more, create larger deficits & cause more hardship. The insurance companies are already saying rates will have to go up by 60% meaning that Health care will soar towards 30 cents of every dollar of income in the United States.

    This is triple the cost in other countries. There is no way that this sort of cost can be handled by the economy ever, no matter how strong the economy becomes. In fact this will likely hurt the economy further as the amount of disposable income dwindles the less chance you will be spending on new furniture,cars,restaurant meals & holidays. Thus there are more jobs in Jeopardy and further damage to the economy.
    I will never understand the terror of the public option, when insurance companies are spending Hundreds of millions on lobbying to keep the status quo you may figure that the status quo is better for them then it is for the patient.

    Can you imagine how quickly the economy, the National debt & peoples availability to health care would improve if Health Care costs dropped to half & everyone was covered.

    The only way to save the further decline really is with controls on costs (caps on fees) Tax on excessive profits (bonuses of 10's of millions for CEO's are obscene)& should be taxed at 90%. These are dollars that you pay these companies over & above the service or product you receive are actually worth. With controls on profits & prices there is a chance that America may stand a chance of reducing its debt.

    The debt today is 11 Trillion dollars & RISING , this is $40,000 per American from newborn to freshly buried. This does not include state debt,municipal debt or your own personal debt, credit cards, home loans & car loans etc.I really don't see how this can go on. It is time to take back the country from the Robber Barons of modern day society.

    I am a Canadian & I know how important Government run Medical care is. Our cost runs at about 8 cents of every dollar, We pay this in slightly higher taxes, it isn't FREE! Our Health care system is one of the best in the world. Yes we have waits for Elective surgery because the system is not perfect but if immediate care is required it happens NOW! Don't say you don't want a system like Canada has unless you really know what you are talking about. EVERY Canadian is covered & we don't receive a bill ever beyond our taxes. No one goes Bankrupt trying to pay their hospital bills.

    October 14, 2009 at 1:36 pm |
  4. jay m

    The Private Insurance industry is run by criminals and crooks, that is why we need a Public Option.

    October 14, 2009 at 9:56 am |
  5. Dr. Steve

    I saw one of your reports this morning which referred to the fact that the Senate Finance Committee did not contain the "Public Option, a government run, government funded health care system."

    You should know that the various proposed "Public Options" are government run, PATIENT PREMIUM FUNDED health care plans. This is not a minor error as your phrase leads people to think "higher taxes."

    My question is: Did your big business sponsors encourage you to mislead the public or is it just journalistic incompetence? It is a sad time for American journalism when John Stewart is more accurate than CNN. I made my point, so "we're going to have to leave it there."

    October 14, 2009 at 9:35 am |
  6. mike-sey

    One rain drop doth not a river make. One snow does not make a bipartisan bill or make the party of no into a party of reason.

    October 14, 2009 at 9:18 am |
  7. Steven

    If this bill is passed without a strong public option it will mean one thing for sure – the death of the democratic party forever!!!!!!!! The brainwashed idiots that have supported the the right wing will have won. This nation will very quickly become an angry, violence filled 3rd world like wasteland with only the few very wealthy powerful at the top crying out for "Law and Order" as they systematically dismantle the Constitution and impose true fascism( rule by government and big business in partnership for the benefit of business and complete public control by government). The deathers, birthers, haters, bigots are screaming about not wanting taxes, social security, medicare or government of any kind in their lives are going to reap the whirlwind of true fascism with their blind support of leaders that have systematically sold their black little souls to the highest bidder.
    No public option = the beginning of the end of this country.

    October 14, 2009 at 8:28 am |
  8. Chris

    Why should it be mandatory for me to buy insurance for my family? I insure my children, but why should it be mandatory? The insurance companies have been lobbying that it will be cheaper, but I highly doubt it. I checked into insuring my wife and myself as my employer doesn't offer insurance. My kids cost me just under $300 a month, my wife and I would add another $400. Right now that $400 is savings, repairs, etc for our cars, home, etc. That means I would have no money each month. How is that fair? I have NEVER been hospitalized in my life, see the doctor once every 2 or 3 years (if he is lucky I go) which means I am not a leech on the system, don't take medication and thus do not add to the lost money by hospitals, etc. Also, having worked for a hospital, they pad their bills. A $70,000 hospital bill may actually be $30,000. This is so that if someone settles for cash(which does happen), they may take $40,000 and still come out ahead. What will be next, mandatory satellite or cable so that Americans can be better educated? Congress, our political system for that matter, should not mandate anything that does not endanger society or that restricts our financial freedoms. When will mandatory anything end?

    October 14, 2009 at 8:26 am |
  9. jim vicalvi

    I listened to Snowe on CNN this AM and this person started talking and seemed to never want to STOP talking but never really said anything important. A true politician. What a "snowe job'. Chetry finally had to interrupt her to get a word in edgewise.

    October 14, 2009 at 8:26 am |
  10. JohnO

    I fail to see how any of the measures passed by the House and Senate will reduce or reverse the rising cost of healthcare. Given that the 3 primary ingredients to the rising cost are providers, healthcare suppliers, and healthcare insurers, all the bills do nothing more than satisfy the insurance companies actuaries. Until we stop the substantial waste caused by our inefficient delivery system; the unnecessary and wasteful procedures performed by physicians; and, eliminate the costly and ineffective bureaucracy built by the insurers, rising healthcare costs and the approaching perfect storm will not be stopped.

    October 14, 2009 at 8:15 am |
  11. Darlene Thomas

    Sen. Snowe said that they have not had to use the prescription drug trigger. With the prices of medication it should have been triggered a long time ago. If the trigger on the health care is going to work the same way I is going to be useless. Public option should be in any health care plan that is put in place.

    October 14, 2009 at 7:54 am |
  12. Pauly

    Max Baucus is celebrating passage of his bill. It could have been written by the insurance co's that have contributed heavily to him. This bill protects those co's a lot more than consumers. Yet, the insurance co's still aren't happy because they want the fines for people who don't overpay them to be fined a lot more money. These same insurance co's are threatening to raise premiums 111% if the bill passes. They have plans to raise them 79% if the staus quo is kept. How can people be supporting this gouging of Americans?

    October 14, 2009 at 7:52 am |
  13. ken

    The health care plan is another 483 billion dollar giveaway program to the health insurance industry. We got into our bankrupt state because of greed by banks, wall street, insurance companies , and selfishness. Greed is a crime against humanity. There is no solution to health care or the debt problem unless people change their attitudes and their politicial affiliations. Health care costs are going up another 10% next year. How many people can afford another 100% increase in ten years.

    October 14, 2009 at 7:44 am |
  14. michael armstrong sr. TX.

    The insurance companys have been gouging people for decades getting away with high way robery and now there crying because theres going to be no more big bonus for big crooks so HA Ha Ha AGI .

    October 14, 2009 at 7:24 am |
  15. markp

    Olympia Snow has said that she woll never sign-off on a bill that has the public option in it, all of the fore-coming bills that are to be inclued with the Baukas bill have the public option so lets not worry this entitlement can still be trashed, we can only hope... ANY TRUTH TO THE RUMOR THAT CNN IS DOING A FACT CHECK ON THE CHURCH LADY.. I ALWAYS SUSPECTED SHE WAS NOT ACTUALLY A CHRISTIAN.... KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK..

    October 14, 2009 at 7:21 am |