This Week's Finance Committee Markup

 The Senate Finance Committee wrapped up work today on the markup of their Health Care Reform legislation, America’s Healthy Future Act. After moving through 564 amendments, a Committee vote on the overall bill has been delayed until after the weekend. Senators will vote after getting an updated cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office. Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) remains the only Republican who will possibly vote with Democrats in favor of the bill.

After Finance Committee members reconvene for a vote next Tuesday or Wednesday, Majority Leader Reid will combine the bill with that which came out of the Senate HELP Committee. Debate on health care overhaul in both the Senate and the House is expected to take place in mid-October, shortly after Columbus Day.

Some highlights from the Finance Committee’s work this week:

  • Members joined together for a bipartisan rejection of Senator John D. Rockefeller’s (D-WV) amendment to create a public plan to compete with private insurers. Advocates of the so-called public option are moving their fight from the Finance Committee to Majority Leader Reid, where they still have a shot at making their case for inclusion. The bill which came out of the Senate HELP Committee include a public option provision.
  • One of the few other amendments to garner bipartisan support was one that proposed to exempt around 2 million people from both the mandate to buy insurance, as well as the possibility of criminal penalties for not having insurance. The Committee adopted an amendment delaying and reducing the penalty. Now, the maximum penalty for a family would begin at $200 in 2014, and grow to $800 in 2017.