[JURIST] The US Senate [official website] agreed on Monday to close the debate [roll call vote] on proposed health care reform legislation [HR 3590 materials], making way for a vote expected Thursday. The agreement was reached by a narrow 60 to 40 vote, requiring every Democrat and Independent vote available. The proposed bill seeks to extend health insurance coverage and prohibit insurance companies from discriminating based on pre-existing conditions. Legal residents would be required to obtain health insurance under the legislation, with subsidies existing for those who cannot afford it. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) [official website] criticized the bill [press release] for its high cost and ineffectiveness, stating that it is inconsistent with President Barack Obama's proposed goals.
Health care reform [JURIST news archive] has been a top priority of the Obama administration for several months. Last month, the US House of Representatives [official website] approved [JURIST report] their reform bill, the Affordable Health Care for America Act [HR 3962 materials]. The House legislation has an estimated cost of around $1 trillon [WSJ report] over 10 years, includes a public option, and would extend coverage to nearly 96 percent of Americans. Like the Senate bill, the House version prohibits discrimination based on pre-existing conditions.