June 18th, 2009
11:58 AM ET
9 years ago

Senate committee starts revising health care reform proposal

President Obama pitched his health care plan to the American Medical Association on Monday and today, a Senate committee is working on a massive health care bill.

President Obama pitched his health care plan to the American Medical Association on Monday and today, a Senate committee is working on a massive health care bill.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - A Senate committee began the arduous work Thursday of debating and amending the first comprehensive health care bill to come before Congress this year.

The measure before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee is one of at least four expected proposals for overhauling America's ailing health care system.

At issue is how to best reduce the cost and increase the reach of the current health care system, which officials say is increasingly draining personal, corporate and government budgets while leaving 46 million Americans without health insurance.

President Barack Obama has made the issue a top priority, warning that failure to act now would bring far worse economic difficulties than the costs of plans under discussion.

Both parties in Congress agree on the need to slow the increase in health care costs while ensuring that all Americans can get health insurance, but they differ sharply on how to proceed.

Democrats generally favor a government-funded public option to compete with private insurers. Republicans say such a step would lead to a government takeover of health care, which they would oppose.

The parties agree on several principles, including an emphasis on preventive care, cost-cutting measures in the existing Medicare and Medicaid programs, and a halt to denials of coverage because of pre-existing medical conditions.

While the Senate HELP Committee began its work, the Senate Finance Committee has delayed its consideration of a similar measure because of uncertainties over the overall costs.

A Congressional Budget Office preliminary analysis this week said portions of the Senate HELP committee bill it has reviewed would cost $1 trillion over the next 10 years while reducing the number of the uninsured - currently 46 million - by just 16 million.

Meanwhile, a bipartisan group made up of former Senate Majority Leaders Tom Daschle, Howard Baker and Bob Dole has offered an outline for an alternative plan intended to overcome the deep party divisions.

The proposal by the Bipartisan Policy Center called for a budget-neutral plan that would include taxing some employer-provided health care benefits for workers.

The plan stopped short of an outright government-funded public health care option, but called for various forms of government assistance to help make coverage more affordable and available. It also called for requiring all Americans to have health care.

Both taxing health care benefits and the lack of a public option go against stated Democratic positions, while the mandate for individual coverage is opposed by Republicans.

Filed under: Healthcare
soundoff (91 Responses)
  1. Karon

    Actually, the best run part of health care today is Medicare and Medicade! Ironic, they are both part of the Government! I am on Medicare and thank God I have it because I have cancer and I go to the best oncology hospital – M D Anderson and I don't have to pay for any tests. My chemo runs about $9,000 each time but I only pay $75! So, the government health care is doing great by me – they don't make any MEDICAL decisions – just keep my costs down while keeping me alive. THANK YOU GOVERNMENT!

    June 18, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |

    From what I understand Obama states we will still have a choice. You can keep your own insurance through your employer, or you can go to goverment plan. I can assure you, I do not know any employer who will offer employer insurance if they don't have to be bothered with it. I am fortunate that my employer pays for some of the premiums, but I can assure they wont pay a penny if they dont have too. Especially if taxes go up. Also, I work for doctors and they will be making less anyway. I guess, I should hope I will even have a job provided the doctors stay in practice. The overhead is too high for all of the government mandated rules and regulations now.

    June 18, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  3. Willy Brown

    When can we reall this guy?

    June 18, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  4. walleye

    Bush said "There are a lot of ways to remedy the situation without nationalizing health care," Why didnt he pick just one of those ways and run with it instead of spending billions for a war which was built on LIES and no one wanted?

    June 18, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  5. democrat no mas, but not right wing yet

    Stop implying that healthcare will be free. Let's all accept the fact that we want good medical care on demand for a reasonable cost for everybody, including illegals, and this will be very expensive. Trying to pay for it by reducing what doctors, hospitals, nursing homes, etc., are paid will only reduce the care available. Give us a best estimate of the cost for all this, not just the cost of adding the uninsured 46 million, and then offer us a tax plan. I'm don't support a single payor government run plan because its cost is excessive. I deal with the total inefficiency of Medicare, Medicaid, and Indigent care on a daily basis, and it's a mistake to underestimate how badly the government can screw something up.

    June 18, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  6. Just My Opinion in Texas

    Fair is Fair ... The only way I can see adding more doctors to those specialties is to make being a doctor profitable for them again.

    I know most doctors get into medicine because they want to help ... but they should at least be able to pay off their educational debts and other bills.

    Used to ... doctors drove the sports cars & the dentists drove the mini-vans. Now ... it's the doctors driving the mini-vans & the dentists driving the sports cars. (My dentist drives a Mercedes & the dentist down the street from him drives a Ferrari. And THIS in a town of less than 20,000 people!)

    That should let you know who is making money these days!

    June 18, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  7. Kristin

    Dan in Ny- Are you off your meds today? I think the last pres was the one who initiated bailouts. Remember. Last spring Bears , Stearns- ring a bell. Then in fall Tarp?? Any of this coming back to you. I know the repubs can't remeber passed the last ten minutes. And how exactly is everything nationalized. Do yourself a favor and stop watching Faux "News".

    June 18, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  8. Richard-Arkansas


    If Obama went to Canada or the UK he would be amazed at how easy it is to see a doctor and without cards and all the hoops we jump through here. He will also find that they have better healthacre than us along with the other 15 countries that have better healthcare than the US. What every one says is such a great US system doesn't realize is that $1000 a year of their payments are going to cover the uninsured.

    With over 40% being uninsured and trying to stay away from the doctor for fear of bankrupcy, we have a national security threat that a untreated disease moving through this "invisible" group could put this country at severe risk before we even know there is a problem.

    Remember, in that bankrupcy total there were a very large group who had insurance but it wouldn't cover major problems, forcing them into a decision of stopping treatment or going bankrupt. Not an acceptable choice either way,

    June 18, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  9. Darth Vadik, CA


    Just hope you don't lose your job in this economy, and your healthcare, because I will be right there on your butt screaming "GET A JOB YOU BUM", except when you're in your late 40's and 50's and you lose your job, even if the economy is good, it's hard to get a job. Do you really think any companies will hire an "old dog" (so to speak).

    You idiot,

    why don't you think before you speak. I got laid off due to the economy and it took me 9 months of intensive job searching to find a new one, and I'm 32.

    Like I said lets see you get a job in your 40's or 50's, and god forbid 60's. But hey, you could be a greater at Wall Mart, but oh yes, THEY DON'T PROVIDE HEALTHCARE FOR THEIR PART TIME (under 30 hrs a week, which they keep everybody at by hiring more people than they need so everybody is part time) EMPLOYEES.

    God I despise you conservatives.

    June 18, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  10. Leah

    @Dan, NY

    I am Canadian and I am happy with Canadian healthcare systems
    I pay $ 600 Canadian a year, and I have access to all types of specialists, I have my family doctor whom I can see within 2 days of making appointment. We have hundreds of walk-in clinic where doctors are there 24/7 for minor injuries ached and pain etc.,
    We have hospital all over the place. free eyes doctor also.
    These are basic care all Canadian have
    If I want an extended care then I pay extra for dental
    It's may not perfect but it's way better than have nothing at all.

    June 18, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  11. John

    Obama is changing the face of America with no regard to the Constitution. You think healthcare is expensive now? wait until it's free.
    I pray for the United States of America and all of our children.

    June 18, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  12. Sniffit

    @ Fed Up, who said "Just love the photo of Obama used for this!!! Hilarious!"

    I know right? Was the cameraman drunk or does he just have bad aim? Wait a sec, did you hire Dick Cheney to shoot the pics CNN? Looks more like an ad for the AMA haha

    June 18, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  13. Jennifer in AK

    To TCM: What about those of use who have very good paying jobs, but still can't get healthcare because of "pre-exsisting conditions?" Which in my husband's case, is a treated by a $4 monthly prescription from Target. I got approved for insurance, but no maternity coverage. He got denied, 3 times by 3 different companies for his pre-exsisting condition. Now, I'm paying out of pocket for all my maternity expenses, which I can afford to do because I make lots of $.

    To wlou437: Yes, Medicare/Medicaid have low reimbursements and demand a certain amount of documentation. However, Private insurance companies demand a much, much, much higher amount of paperwork with their constant ridiculous denials of coverage and "pre-authorization" forms.

    June 18, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  14. Robert

    "think about the post office…
    think about your local DMV….
    that's the future of healthcare under Obama!"

    Think about student loan programs...
    Think about the military...
    Think about drinking water...

    The government gets more things right than wrong.

    June 18, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  15. Mark,B'ham,Al.

    If you want to see government ran health care look at the US Military. It is an HMO system that the Clinton administration put on us when the system we had before work much better, even though we were still short physicican like Orthopedic Surgeons. They just dropped carrying (Tri-Cor) another medication I have been on and I still have to go out to a civilian pharmacy to get Lipitor. Remember they are still not caught up on their patients for orthopedics. My health care from my wifes job is a whole lot better than anything the government ever provided me or my disabled adult son. That is what those of us who have great medical benefits and are willing to pay for it have. Also my youngest son who made $18,000.00 last year is paying $250.00 a month to get great coverage for he and is toddler son even though he has to make some sacrafices which I know alot of the uninsured are not willing to make for their kids. P.S. we could not get my grandson on the SCHIP program because he lives with his grandparents. Now that is discouraging.

    June 18, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  16. Mark,B'ham,Al.

    Tort Reform is a must or the bill should die where it is!

    June 18, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  17. Rob

    Here's a radical idea. How about we all take better care of ourselves? That would minimize doctor visits to just check-ups. I think the government should also provide incentives to companies that promote a healthy work atmosphere by encouraging workers to excercise for a half hour to an hour a day during the work day.

    Currently Japan is fining companies with overweight employees (thanks to fast food). That's how you bring health care costs down.

    June 18, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  18. nw guy

    if they plan to support all americans with this plan it will cost


    the dems plan for 16 million americans cost 100 Billion a year. thats $6250 per person a year. if all of us are on it all (306 million and yes including illegals) it will be 1.9125 Trillion dollars. I only make 40K a year and yes I pay taxes, have done so since I was 16 years old. We can't afford a plan that punishes people who have insurance by taxing them to death.

    June 18, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  19. Ann

    Health care should not be a for-profit business. There should be a public, single payor.

    June 18, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  20. AndrewCPA

    This should be rammed through congress to just so Obama can see I did it. If that happens that $1T price tag will seem like nothing. Work to cap the malpractice docs have to pay. This is why costs go up.

    If congress really wants to see how this will work they should all give up their nice health insurance plans and have to use the VA/Military/medicare for a year and see how it is. I am sure they all will see that when the gov't runs healthcare it is not so great. Now before people attack me... I grew up with military healthcare. It was good to ok. Thank goodness my family did not have many issues, but the one time we did I spent two days waiting to see a dr. talk about wasting time.

    Work together on this or some of you will not have a job in a few years.

    June 18, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  21. Mark

    We could pay for healthcare by taxing the exported medications we provide to other socialized medicine countries like Canada, who limit the the amount companies can charge...thereby creating a situation where the American consumer subsidies their socialized medical system.

    June 18, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  22. Rob

    Typical lib fashion. Campaign promising to do something, when the opposition tells you it can't be done you convince the weak-minded that they are against change. Then, after you've swindled your way into office, you find out that can't follow through on your pipe dreams and empty promises.

    So, who's he gonna blame this time?

    Careful all you lemmings, he's getting closer to the edge!

    June 18, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  23. ArtNYC

    The govt has done such an amazing job with medicare and medicaid that we now need to nationalize the whole healthcare system.

    Post Office is another great example of how well that organization runs.

    June 18, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  24. Kenyan Wonder Kid

    Great picture of our tiny and tiny-minded messiah.

    June 18, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  25. The lonely Libertarian of Liverpool NY

    Did you know that the insurance business was illegal for most of the history of this country? Back in the day when the US Dollar had some value, before 1913 when the Federal Reserve Bank was also illegal. The reason health care is so expensvive is because of the insurance industry.

    June 18, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
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