Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Public Plan Cut from Senate Finance Bill; House Vote Expected in November

On Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee voted to eliminate the public health plan from the health reform bill. Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and 4 Democrats joined the Committee's 10 Republicans in striking the plan from the bill.

Chairman Baucus acknowledged that a public option would pressure private insurance companies into offering high-quality, affordable coverage. However, he recognized that a bill with a government plan may not garner enough final votes to pass in the Senate. Instead of a public option, the Senate Finance Committee bill includes the creation of non-profit co-operatives which would compete with private insurers.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee's bill still includes the public option. Both Committees' proposals must be reconciled into a single bill before a full Senate vote.

Meanwhile in the House, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said that he expects a bill to be completed for review in October. However, both he and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) have agreed not to rush the bill to the floor for a vote, implying that a full House vote may not take place until November.

Sources: CQ, CongressDaily

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