The Finance Committee bill is designed to extend coverage to tens of millions of Americans now without insurance. Among other things, the measure would expand eligibility for Medicaid, the health program for the poor, and it would create new tax subsidies to help individuals and families comply with a mandate that nearly every American carry insurance.
The bill is expected to pass the Finance Committee, where Democrats hold a 13-10 majority. After that, Senate Democratic leaders must merge the Finance bill with a more liberal measure approved by the Senate health committee.
Among the issues on the table: whether the legislation should include a government-run health plan. As it stands, the Finance bill doesn't include one. Instead, the measure would create a network of nonprofit health cooperatives to compete with private insurers.
Karen Ignagni, chief executive of America's Health Insurance Plans, said the group still backs efforts to pass health legislation. But she said the combined changes made to the Finance bill will increase costs, not lower them. "Congress, too early, gave up on the goal of bending the cost curve," she said.