A crucial vote on U.S. health care reform was to be held Tuesday by the Senate Finance Committee.
The Democrats hold a 13-10 majority on the committee, which ensures passage of a 10-year, $829-billion plan bill that requires nearly all Americans to purchase health insurance and introduces numerous other changes, the Associated Press reported.
Senate Finance Committee support of the bill, which Republicans oppose, would represent a significant advance in President Barack Obama's efforts to overhaul the nation's $2.5 trillion health system. Four other congressional committees passed legislation before August. For months, attention has focused on the Finance Committee, the remaining one.
Even after the Finance Committee's approval, much more work has to be done before the bill could arrive on Obama's desk, the AP reported.
Along with making health insurance mandatory, the bill would force insurance companies to accept all applicants, and consumers could look for insurance within new state marketplaces called exchanges. There are consumer protections such as limits on copays and deductibles, and lower-income families would receive federal subsidies to help them purchase coverage.
Employers wouldn't have to provide coverage for their workers, but they'd have to pay a penalty for each worker who sough insurance with government subsidies, the AP reported. Medicare would be expanded. The cost of the bill would be covered by new taxes on insurance companies and others, along with cuts to Medicare providers.