Healthcare bill backed by Senate committee

October 14, 2009 at 2:28 am | Posted in USA | Leave a comment
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By Anna Fifield and Edward Luce in Washington

Max Baucus, the committee’s Democratic chairman, had attempted to draft a bipartisan bill, taking into account Republican concerns about medical malpractice laws and fiscal conservatives’ objections to a public insurance option. His plan would prohibit companies from excluding people from coverage based on preexisting conditions from 2013; create state-based exchanges for individuals and small businesses to shop for insurance; and set up a basic plan for young adults. Yesterday’s vote will also be taken as a rebuke to the health insurance industry, which published a last-minute report on Monday claiming that premiums would rise much faster under the proposed reforms than they would otherwise. Far from undermining conservative Democrats, the report, released by America’s Health Insurance Plans, the main industry lobby group, appears to have hardened resolve in favour of reform. “Americans are looking for common-sense solutions,” Mr Baucus said as the committee prepared to vote. But Republicans continued to attack the plan yesterday. Charles Grassley, the top Republican on the committee, said it would put the US on a “slippery slope to more and more government control of healthcare”.

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