A White House-backed overhaul of the nation's health care system weathered repeated challenges from Republican critics over taxes, abortion and more on Wednesday, and the bill's architect claimed enough votes to push it through the Senate Finance Committee as early as week's end.
"We're coming to closure," said Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., the committee chairman, as President Barack Obama lobbied at least one wavering Democrat by phone to swing behind the measure.
Baucus said, "It's clear to me we're going to get it passed," although he sidestepped a question about possible Republican support. Olympia Snowe of Maine is the only GOP senator whose vote is in doubt, and she has yet to tip her hand. While she has voted with Democrats on some key tests — to allow the government to dictate the types of coverage that must be included in insurance policies, for example — she has also sided with fellow Republicans on other contentious issues.
In a reflection of the intensity on both sides of the Capitol, Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson of Florida was unrepentant after claiming the Republican plan for health care was for Americans to "die quickly." Refusing to apologize, he said, "People like elected officials with guts who say what they mean. ... I stand by what I said."
That controversy aside, House Democratic leaders struggled to reduce their legislation to the $900 billion, 10-year cost that Obama has specified. Officials said numerous alternatives were under review to reduce subsidies that are designed to defray the cost of insurance for millions.
Passage in the Finance Committee would clear the way for debate on the Senate floor in mid-October on the bill, designed to accomplish Obama's aims of expanding access to insurance as well as slowing the rate of growth in health care spending overall. The bill includes numerous consumer protections, such as limits on copays and deductibles, and relies on federal subsidies to help lower-income families purchase coverage. Its cost is estimated at $900 billion over a decade.
While the legislation would not allow the government to sell insurance in competition with private companies, as Obama and numerous Democrats would like, the White House was working to make sure that some version cleared committee.
via Health bill survives attacks — vote by week's end? - Yahoo! News.
With the shape the economy is in now, I don't think we can afford this.