Senate HELP Committee Sends Health Reform Proposal to Full Senate
This morning the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee voted 13-10 along party lines to approve its health care reform legislation, the AP/Google.com reports. (AP/Google.com, 7/15).
On Tuesday, after four weeks of markups, the committee finished work on the bill, adopting 60 amendments and rejecting 12 (Adofo, CQ Today, 7/14).
The measure now moves to the Senate floor where it will be combined with pending legislation from the Senate Finance Committee before coming to a vote (AP/Google, 7/15).
The panel voted 12-11 to adopt an amendment by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) that would require members of Congress to enroll in the government-run health insurance option if lawmakers adopt one (CQ Today, 7/14).
Coburn predicted that the measure would be dropped during the House-Senate conference negotiations.
The committee also adopted a measure by Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) to clarify that seasonal workers would not be considered employees for the purposes of the legislation's requirement that employers provide health insurance benefits to workers (Hunt, CongressDaily, 7/15).
Also, the committee voted 14-9 to adopt an amendment by Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) that would create a grant program for behavioral health centers.
The panel voted against the following amendments:
- A proposal by ranking member Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) that would have allowed Medicaid beneficiaries to opt out of the program and enroll in private or public insurance plans offered through a state's health insurance exchange;
- An amendment by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) that would have expanded the exemption for the employer mandate to companies with up to 50 employees -- the bill currently only exempts companies with up to 25 employees;
- An amendment by Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) that would have established a minimum provider payment rate under the public plan option;
- An amendment by Coburn that would have provided refundable tax credits to U.S. residents, allowed premiums to be paid from tax-exempt health savings accounts and created state health insurance exchanges; and
- An amendment by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) that would have permitted states to establish single-payer health care systems (CQ Today, 7/14).