Senate Democrats have obtained the needed 60th vote approving a procedural motion to move the health care reform bill toward final passage on Christmas Eve. Vote for final passage was 60-40, completely divided on party lines. Not one Republican in the Senate voted for the health care reform bill.
Once the bill clears the Senate, House and Senate negotiators will begin negotiations for joining two very different House and Senate bills. The Senate bill, which is expected to cost $871 billion over ten years, would extend coverage to 31 million uninsured Americans by expanding Medicaid, offering new insurance subsidies, and creating a national insurance marketplace. The Senate bill would also raise the Medicare Payroll Tax for individuals making over $200,000 and couples over $250,000. Additionally, insurance companies could no longer deny insurance over pre-existing conditions or set a lifetime on benefits. But the bill has been trimmed from its original form. The government-run insurance option has been eliminated, along with the proposed substitute for the public option by expanding Medicare eligibility to individuals as young as 55.
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