Policy-ish

Finance Finally Gets to Yes On Health Bill

Many people thought this day would never come. And despite dueling studies about the impact released over the weekend, the Senate Finance Committee votes on a bill to revamp the nation's health system.

Health care by the numbers. i i

The Senate Finance Committee gets down to the numbers that matter most--votes. iStockphoto.com hide caption

itoggle caption iStockphoto.com
Health care by the numbers.

The Senate Finance Committee gets down to the numbers that matter most--votes.

iStockphoto.com

So we've assembled a few fun numbers to help you wrap your heads around the progression of events.

Eleven months ago, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus unveiled his "white paper," outlining his vision of an overhauled health-care system.

Five months ago, Baucus went behind closed doors with a core groups of three Republicans and two fellow Democrats — the infamous Gang of Six — to see if he could craft the only bipartisan health bill in Congress.

Three weeks ago, he acknowledged that significant bipartisan agreement on this issue was not gonna happen and brought a more Democratic measure to the committee.

Today, the committee will take a vote. Probably.

Unless something really unexpected happens, nearly all of the panel's Democrats and maybe Maine Republican Olympia Snowe will vote to send the bill on to the full Senate for a vote.

Before that occurs, of course, the Finance bill must be melded together with the bill approved in July by the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.

That will be a delicate task. The HELP bill is far more liberal-leaning than the Finance measure; complete with a government-run public plan (which Finance voted down in two separate versions). The HELP bill is also far more expensive.

But they have the same goals — get more people insured and rein in the cost of care.

It will be up to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to find the balance between the Finance and HELP bills, in a way that can satisfy both the more liberal and more moderate members of his caucus and still produce the 60 votes needed to choke off the expected Republican filibuster.

Meanwhile, House Democratic leaders are watching anxiously the goings-on in the Senate as they try to cobble together their own amalgam of the bills produced by the three committees in that chamber. House moderates say they don't want to vote for anything that can't also pass the Senate.

That's one reason why no one on the Hill seems to be making plans for Thanksgiving — or even Christmas.

Does Santa deliver to the Capitol?

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