Finally, a health bill looks ready to head to the Senate floor from the Finance Committee, last of the five congressional panels crafting a plan to overhaul the nation's health system.
Alex Wong/Getty Images
Sen. Max Baucus talks health care with Sen. Olympia Snowe.
Sen. Max Baucus talks health care with Sen. Olympia Snowe. Alex Wong/Getty Images
Yeah, we know the Congressional Budget Office still has to crunch the figures and a final vote won't come until next week. But, the two-week markup, called a "death march" by one reporter who gets out undying respect for sitting through it all, ended a little after 2am Friday morning in Washington.
The Democrats, with a 13-10 majority on the committee, can pass the bill on no matter what the Republicans have to say about it. Soon we'll get the big-time debate of the full Senate. What will they chew over?
Absent from the Baucus bill is a government-sponsored coverage alternative, or public option, in the insurance markets that states would be set up for the uninsured and small employers. Instead, the bill offers co-operatives as an alternative.
A late change to the bill would open the door for states to negotiate with insurers for coverage of people who miss the cutoff for Medicaid but still make less than twice the poverty level, though.
Another late tweak would soften the bite of an insurance mandate on middle-income families, cutting the max they'd have to pay to 8 percent of household income from 10 percent.
Other changes would reduce the penalties for people who don't buy insurance and reduce the number of people who would get hit with a tax on their high-end insurance plans.