Senate Committee OKs $600B Health Bill

Party-line vote moves closer to coverage for nearly all Americans
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jul 15, 2009 10:16 AM CDT
Acting Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., right, huddles with committee member Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, July 13, 2009.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
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(Newser) – The Senate health committee has cast a milestone vote to approve legislation expanding insurance coverage to nearly all Americans, becoming the first congressional panel to act on President Obama's top domestic priority. The 13-10 party-line vote advanced a $600 billion measure that would require individuals to get health insurance and employers to contribute to the cost.

The government would provide financial assistance with premiums for individuals and families making up to four times the federal poverty level—or about $88,000 for a family of four. The health committee legislation is but one piece of broader Senate legislation that's still under development. "This time we've produced legislation that by and large I think the American people want," said Sen. Chris Dodd, the committee’s acting chair with Ted Kennedy ailing.