The health care debate has taken another halting but key step forward. Senate democrats narrowly won a vote Saturday night to open debate on their version of the sweeping reform bill.
Now Senate Democrats have the difficult task of hammering out their differences and trying to pass their final version of the bill. KOHO’s Isaac Kaplan-Woolner spoke Friday with Washington Senator Patty Murray about the 2,074 page health care bill:
112309 senator murray health care reform EDIT—05:19
Senator Murray joined us by phone Friday morning from Washington DC.
Now the real debate on the senate health care proposal begins. The amendments are expected to take weeks and deliberations aren’t slated to begin until after Thanksgiving.
If the Senate does manage to pass a bill, it would then need to be merged with the House proposal into a consensus vesion, which requires approval from both chambers before heading to President Obama’s desk to be signed into law.
The current forms of both the Senate and House health care bills require uninsured individuals to buy health insurance, with penalties for non-compliance. Unlike the House version, the Senate bill does not mandate that all employers offer health care.
The two bills are virtually identical on many changes, including creating health insurance exchanges, increasing Medicaid, subsidizing insurance for low- and some middle-income families, capping out-of-pocket medical expenses, and preventing insurance companies from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions.