On October 13, 2009, the Senate Finance Committee approved Senator Max Baucus’s (D-Montana) health care bill, the America’s Healthy Future Act, by a vote of 14 to 9. Senator Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) was the only Republican to vote with the committee’s 13 Democrats in favor of the bill. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated the cost of the bill at $829 billion over 10 years.
The bill will now be fully merged with Sen. Kennedy’s HELP bill with hands-on participation from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and key Administration officials. Some of the most contentious issues to be resolved in the merger include the fate of the HELP bill’s government option, the Finance Committee’s weak individual mandate penalties and new taxes and fees on the insurance industry.
The stated aims of the legislation are to lower costs, provide quality, affordable health care coverage, make purchasing health insurance easier, prohibit discrimination due to health factors and improve the way the health care system delivers care. However, many in Congress are divided on whether the bill can meet these objectives. Opponents of the bill have argued that it will increase costs for many Americans, rather than making health care more affordable.
Stayed tuned for MANY updates as this bill is vollyed about the Senate and House.