Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid scrambled Tuesday to lock down votes behind a health-care bill that he may present as early as Wednesday.
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."
[...] Preliminary estimates by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the legislation's official scorekeeper, have indicated that the Senate measure would cost far less than the bill the House approved last week, while lowering the federal deficit further over the long term, said several senior Democratic aides who have reviewed the CBO data.
Democrats are hopeful about winning over at least one Republican, Sen. Olympia J. Snowe, on a vote for final passage. But the Maine moderate has pledged to support a GOP filibuster at the outset because Reid's bill is expected to include a public-insurance option that she opposes.
Under the terms of the bill, Medicaid would be expanded to cover everybody up to 133 percent of the poverty line. And in a move that will disappoint progressives, tax credits to buy health insurance would be limited to those between 133 and 300 percent of poverty line. (People between 300 and 400 percent of poverty would not be provided any direct federal assistance, but insurers would not be able to set their premiums at more than 9.8 percent of their annual income.)
Here we go again. That's not going to be enough to make it affordable to most people, and it has to change in the final version. Call your Congress critter!