WASHINGTON -- A key U.S. Senate committee has voted in favor of a controversial bill that would drastically change America's health care system. Now, the bill heads to the House and the full Senate -- where it may face an uphill fight.
The Senate Finance Committee approved of the bill by a 14-9 vote. Only one of those 14, however, was a Republican -- Olympia Snowe of Maine.
"Is this bill all that I would want? Far from it. Is it all that it can be? No. But when history calls, history calls," Snowe said.
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Snowe is the only Republican in either the House or Senate to support the bill, which was written by Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont. Despite the lack of bi-partisan support, President Barack Obama called the Senate Finance Committee vote "an historic milestone."
"Now is not the time to offer ourselves congratulations, now is the time to dig in and work even harder to get this done," Obama said.
The bill would require Americans without health insurance to pay up to $1,900 per family.
It would prohibit denial of coverage due to pre-existing conditions and provide subsidies to families with incomes under $88,000.
It would also slash an estimated $400 billion from Medicare spending and raise taxes by another $400 billion.
The bill -- which would cost $829 billion over 10 years -- does not include a government run health care option. Labor unions have said they'll oppose it unless the public option is added -- and leading Democrats are voicing their concerns as well.
"We are not doing what we set out to do. It is a step in the right direction but it is not enough," Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.V., said.
There are no guarantees that the bill will pass either the House or the full Senate.
Even with Wednesday's vote, health care reform is far from a done deal. There are intense negotiations ahead as it goes before the full Senate and the House.
"Now you are going to have 100 Senators and 435 House members involved," former Sen. John Breaux, D-La., said.
"Obviously then, when you are trying to redo something as important as health care for every single citizen in this country, it's a monumental task."