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Key Senate committee passes controversial healthcare bill

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2009-10-13

President Barack Obama's ambitious healthcare reform bill was endorsed by the US Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday, bringing him closer to his goal of signing in sweeping legislation to expand medical coverage to tens of millions of Americans this

The Senate Finance committee endorsed a healthcare reform bill on Tuesday, delivering President Barack Obama a big victory on his top domestic priority.

Obama called the decision a “critical milestone”.

The controversial bill was approved in a 14-9 vote, with the support of influential Republican Senator Olympia Snowe, the first Republican in Congress to back the healthcare bill.

“He has the Democrats on board right now,” says Guillaume Meyer, FRANCE 24 correspondent in Washington D.C.  “He even has one Republican going along with the project and that is a big victory in itself for Obama.”

The move brings Obama one step closer to his goal of signing in the sweeping legislation this year to extend medical coverage to Americans who don’t yet benefit from it.

The Senate Finance Committee bill requires all US citizens and legal residents to have health insurance and provides subsidies on a sliding scale to help them buy it. The 829-billion-dollar proposal also aims at reducing costs and regulating the insurance market.

It has faced fierce criticism from Republicans who condemn the blueprint as costly and fear government intrusion into the private healthcare sector.

But the bill still faces a crucial challenge within the next few weeks when it goes to a full Senate debate. Any measure approved by the Senate would also have to be melded with whatever comes out of the House of Representatives, where Democrats are trying to blend three bills into one.

“It is not yet done,” says Meyer. “Several hurdles could come in the way for the healthcare reform to become transformative. It can still be watered down.”

Date created : 2009-10-13