The 13-10 committee vote, along party lines, gives President Obama an important victory in what promises to be a lengthy and contentious drive to enact a comprehensive health-care overhaul this year.
The bill, named "Quality, Affordable Health Coverage for All Americans," would create a controversial new government-sponsored health program that would compete with the private sector. It requires that every American carry health insurance and provides generous discounts to people who cannot afford a plan. Millions more Americans would also be eligible for Medicaid, the joint federal-state health program for the poor, Washington Post reports.
The Democratic-controlled health panel's bill, approved on a 13-10 party-line vote, seeks to expand coverage to much of the 46 million uninsured Americans, adds a government-run healthcare program, requires most Americans to obtain health insurance, and mandates most employers to provide it to their workers.
The legislation also seeks to reduce costs in the $2.5 trillion U.S. healthcare industry, but Republicans complained that its $1 trillion cost over 10 years would worsen the burgeoning federal deficit, Reuters reports.
Meanwhile, democrats in the House of Representatives unveiled their version of a health care bill yesterday afternoon, and the Congressional Budget Office released its preliminary analysis of the costs and benefits. If you sympathize with the case for universal health care, it's an occasion to be happy: the CBO says bill will leave 97% of the legal population insured by 2019, Atlantic Online reports.