Baucus bill includes tax cut
BETTY ANN BOWSER: From the beginning, Republicans argued the Democrats' bill was nothing more than a government takeover of health care, full of unfair taxes. That debate come to a head yesterday afternoon. Arizona Senator Jon Kyl.
SEN. JON KYL, R-Ariz.: So when folks tell you that we're going to reduce your health care costs, we're going to cut your health insurance premiums, we're going to bend the cost curve down, they're conveniently neglecting to tell you that they're also going to raise your taxes by $130 billion.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: Chairman Max Baucus insisted the Republicans were wrong.
SEN. MAX BAUCUS: Well, let me just remind everybody that this bill, this legislation before us, provides for a $40 billion net tax cut for Americans, $40 billion, by the year 2019, net $40 billion tax cut for Americans.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: There was also a spirited debate over whether the bill should have a public insurance option. New York Democrat Charles Schumer.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, D-N.Y.: This is far more than a symbol. This is not an ideological fight. It is vital to make this bill, which a good bill, a better bill.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: Although the public option failed, supporters say they'll bring it up again when the bill reaches the Senate floor, just one of the sticking points that still have to be resolved.
But in the end, Baucus held the Democratic majority together and, for the most part, got much of what he wanted, including: almost every American would be required to buy health insurance; federal government subsidies would be given to families making up to $66,000 a year to buy coverage; instead of a public option, consumers would be allowed to set up insurance cooperatives to compete with private insurers; finally, and most important, insurance companies would no longer be able to deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions or drop people when they get sick.
Meanwhile, Republicans remained overwhelmingly opposed to all the bills on the table. Once the Finance Committee votes out its bill, Senate leaders will have to marry it with another more liberal bill passed by the Senate Health Committee in July. Floor debate is expected in two weeks.