“The Finish Line is IN SIGHT” (Sen. Chris Dodd)
Read The Bill: Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
WASHINGTON — The political stakes enormous, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid launched long-awaited health care legislation Wednesday estimated to extend coverage to 94 percent of eligible Americans at a cost of $849 billion.
Initial maneuvering on the Senate floor was expected later in the week on the measure, bitterly opposed by Republicans eager to deny President Barack Obama a victory on his top domestic priority.
Officials have said the measure would require most Americans to carry health insurance and would mandate large companies to provide coverage to their workers, as well as ban insurance company practices such as denying coverage on the basis of pre-existing medical conditions.
As rank-and-file Democrats gathered to learn details of the measure, a senior Democratic leadership aide said the Congressional Budget Office had estimated it would spread coverage to 31 million Americans who currently lack it while still reducing federal deficits by a total of $127 billion over 10 years.
The aide also cited a CBO estimate that the bill would achieve cuts of $1 trillion over a decade in projected health care costs. The estimate of 94 percent coverage was less than the 96 percent estimated for legislation the House passed earlier this month, but no precise comparisons were possible without as-yet-unreleased CBO documentation.
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Reid ‘cautiously optimistic’ about getting 60 votes on health bill
Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid scrambled to lock down votes behind a health-care bill that he is expected to present Wednesday night to his Democratic caucus.
The Nevada Democrat would not confirm that he had received commitments from all 60 members of his caucus to overcome GOP procedural objections and bring the bill to the Senate floor, saying only, “I feel cautiously optimistic that we can do that. I think we’re together as a caucus.”