Congress Draws Battle Lines on Senate HC Bill

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WASHINGTON -- Battle lines have been drawn over the Senate's new 2,074-page health care bill which critics say will cost far more than its $849 billion price tag.

Still, senior Democrats introduced their health care plan as nothing short of history in the making.

"Tonight begins the last leg of this journey we have been on for some time," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said.

Reid's bill would extend coverage to 30 million more Americans at a price tag of nearly $850 billion over the first 10 years.

The bill would also require most Americans to have health insurance and would set up an insurance exchange to lower the cost of buying coverage.

In addition, it would create an optional public plan, but states could choose to opt out.

Contrary to the House bill, abortions would be included in the public plan and insurance companies that get federal funds could offer abortion coverage.

The bill would be paid for by imposing taxes on premium insurance plans, taxing workers making more than $250,000 a year and an increase in Medicare payroll taxes.

The legislation proposes cuts to Medicare - a decision Reid says will make it stronger.

"Anytime you have a program with fraud, waste and abuse in it and you cut that, you protect the program," he said.

However, even before the bill made its debut, Republicans said no dice.

"Americans want cost control, and they want affordable and available health care," Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said. "They don't want increases in taxes. They don't want the government taking over the health care system in American, and that's what's going to be delivered."

But it's not just Republicans that stand in the way. Moderate Democrats could keep the bill from moving forward by withholding their vote and preventing the 60 votes needed to even bring the bill up for debate.

Despite the uncertainty, supporters like Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, predicted success.

"We're gonna get it over the finish line," he vowed. "Because failure is not an option."

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