Moving the ambitious plan to overhaul the nation's health-care system ever closer to reality, Senate Democrats announced on Saturday that they have reached agreement on a bill that is still on track to be approved by Christmas.
Although Senate Republicans staunchly oppose the bill, the Senate Democrats said they now have the 60 votes needed to overcome any potential filibusters on the Senate floor, according to the New York Times.
The critical 60th vote finally came after Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), gave his backing following 13 hours of intense negotiation Friday, the Times reported.
"Change is never easy, but change is what's necessary in America," Mr. Nelson said during a Saturday morning news conference. "And that's why I intend to vote for health care reform."
If the bill passes the Senate, it will still have to be reconciled with a House version of the bill that was adopted last month, and Nelson stressed that if any changes were not to his liking, he would withdraw his backing, the Times reported.
The highly ambitious bill would extend health benefits to more than 30 million uninsured Americans by expanding Medicaid and by providing subsidies to help moderate-income people purchase private insurance.