WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senate Democrats on Wednesday presented their version of health-care reform legislation, which carries a price tag of $848 billion over 10 years, The New York Times reported.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said the bill – called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – would extend coverage to 31 million uninsured Americans, while reducing the federal budget deficit by $130 billion, according to the Times. It would establish a government health insurance plan, but states could opt out, the Times said.
Though similar in many ways to the House bill passed earlier this month, the Times noted some differences, such as an increase in the Medicare payroll tax on high-income people. The Senate legislation also would “impose a new excise tax on high-cost ‘Cadillac health plans’ offered by employers to their employees,” the Times said. That tax is “among the most contentious provisions of the bill.”
Reid hopes to take a procedural vote to begin debate on the legislation before the Senate’s Thanksgiving break. To do that, he needs the support of all 58 Democratic senators and two Independents.
“Republicans have vowed to fight the legislation at every turn, saying it represents a dangerous expansion in the role of government that would increase taxes and insurance costs for millions of people,” the Times reported.
According to the Associated Press, Reid met Wednesday with Sens. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, moderate Democrats who had “yet to commit to allowing debate to begin.”
If the vote succeeds, “it would be followed by weeks – if not more – of unpredictable maneuvering on the Senate floor, where Reid and his allies will seek to incorporate changes sought by Democrats and repel attempts by Republicans to defeat the legislation and inflict a significant political defeat on the president,” the AP reported.
More stories worth a read:
- A comparison of Senate, House Democratic health care bills (Associated Press)
- Sen. George Voinovich: Why waste time on a badly flawed health-care bill? (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
- Screening policy won’t change, U.S. officials say (New York Times)
- Cincinnati-area hospitals boosted charity care in ’08 (Business Courier of Cincinnati)
- Trek Diagnostic Systems expands presence in United Kingdom (Crain’s Cleveland Business)
- Genzyme drops kidney-drug plans amid pileup of bad news (Wall Street Journal Health Blog)
- Medtronic gets FDA warning on documentation, responses, quality control in heart implant unit (Associated Press)
- Donations to health care institutions drying up (American Medical News)
- The virtual doctor (Kaiser Health News)
- Grassley presses medical schools on ghostwriting (Pharmalot)