US Senate panel backs health care reform



WASHINGTON // A key Senate committee endorsed a sweeping health care overhaul yesterday, gaining the support of an influential Republican and delivering the American president Barack Obama a victory on his top domestic priority. The Democratic-controlled Senate Finance Committee approved the measure on a 14-9 vote, with Senator Olympia Snowe becoming the first Republican in Congress to back a health care reform bill.

"Today we reached a critical milestone in our effort to reform our health care system," Mr Obama said after the vote, warning there were still big challenges ahead for health care reform. The bill, the last of five pending health measures to clear a committee in Congress, will be merged with the Senate health panel's version in the next few weeks for a full Senate debate and floor votes. Snowe, who had been courted by Obama and his fellow Democrats, said she still had reservations about the overhaul and could not guarantee her continued support as it advances.

"My vote today is my vote today. It doesn't forecast what my vote will be tomorrow," Mr Snowe said. Health insurer companies stocks fell on fears reform was gaining steam and would hurt profits if it passed. The S&P Managed Health Care index of large health insurers was down 1.9 per cent. Mr Snowe's support for the bill "definitively shifts the political balance in Democrats' favour," a health care equities analyst, Avik Roy, said.

The vote gave another shot of momentum to the health care drive and was good news for Mr Obama, who has been criticised for taking too much on board from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to climate change and gay rights. The proposal drafted by the Democratic chairman Max Baucus was designed to reduce costs, regulate insurers and expand coverage. "Pretty much everything has been said and now it's time to get the job done," Mr Baucus said. "Americans are looking for common-sense solutions."

Republicans condemned the plan as a costly and heavy-handed government intrusion into the private health care sector and said the measure would get even worse as it moves forward. "We can now see clearly that the bill continues its march leftward," said Senator Charles Grassley, the senior Republican on the panel. "This bill is already moving on a slippery slope to more government control of health care."

Mr Snowe's support could give Democrats a crucial swing vote as they try to hold the 60 Senate votes needed to overcome procedural roadblocks. Democrats control exactly 60 seats in the 100-member Senate. Two weeks of panel debate left the key elements of the committee plan intact. Support was strengthened by last week's estimate from non-partisan analysts that it would cost $829 billion (Dh3 trillion), well below Mr Obama's target of $900 billion, and meet the president's goal of reducing the budget deficit.

But the final bill drew criticism on a variety of fronts, with advocates saying it should cover more of the uninsured and labour unions opposing its tax on expansive insurance plans, which would hit some unions. "Senate leaders must make major improvements in the bill before it moves to the floor of the US Senate," said Gerald McEntee, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, one of about 30 unions that will sponsor ads opposing the measure.

Mr Snowe and the Democratic Senator Blanche Lincoln, a moderate from Arkansas, urged Mr Baucus to make sure the Finance Committee bill was not drastically altered in the merger with the Senate health panel. Mr Baucus said after the vote he was not concerned with how long the merger of the two Senate bills might take but was more interested in producing a balanced final product. "Let's make sure we get the merger right. Let's not botch it," he said.

The Senate Finance Committee bill requires all US citizens and legal residents to have health insurance and provides subsidies on a sliding scale to help them buy it. It would create state-based exchanges where individuals and small businesses would shop for insurance and would bar insurers from refusing to cover people with pre-existing conditions or dropping those with serious illnesses. The bill does not include a government-run "public" insurance option backed by Mr Obama and liberal Democrats as a way to create competition for insurers. Republican critics say that approach would undermine the private insurance industry.

All three bills in the House of Representatives and the other Senate bill, passed by the Health Committee, include a public insurance option. Supporters have vowed a Senate floor fight over the issue. Any bill produced by the Senate ultimately will have to be merged with the House's final bill. Democratic leaders in the House are working to merge their three measures into a single bill for House action.

Democratic senators condemned an attack on Monday on the Senate Finance bill by the insurance industry, which paid for a report charging the bill would drive up costs and insurance premiums. "The insurance industry ought to be ashamed of this report," said Democratic Senator John Kerry. "The results were simply not valid." * Reuters

Kill

Director: Nikhil Nagesh Bhat

Starring: Lakshya, Tanya Maniktala, Ashish Vidyarthi, Harsh Chhaya, Raghav Juyal

Rating: 4.5/5

Specs: 2024 McLaren Artura Spider

Engine: 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 and electric motor
Max power: 700hp at 7,500rpm
Max torque: 720Nm at 2,250rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed dual-clutch auto
0-100km/h: 3.0sec
Top speed: 330kph
Price: From Dh1.14 million ($311,000)
On sale: Now

MATCH INFO

Uefa Champions League semi-final, second leg result:

Ajax 2-3 Tottenham

Tottenham advance on away goals rule after tie ends 3-3 on aggregate

Final: June 1, Madrid

'Ashkal'

Director: Youssef Chebbi

Stars: Fatma Oussaifi and Mohamed Houcine Grayaa

Rating: 4/5

Company profile

Name: The Concept

Founders: Yadhushan Mahendran, Maria Sobh and Muhammad Rijal

Based: Abu Dhabi

Founded: 2017

Number of employees: 7

Sector: Aviation and space industry

Funding: $250,000

Future plans: Looking to raise $1 million investment to boost expansion and develop new products

What is Dungeons & Dragons?

Dungeons & Dragons began as an interactive game which would be set up on a table in 1974. One player takes on the role of dungeon master, who directs the game, while the other players each portray a character, determining its species, occupation and moral and ethical outlook. They can choose the character’s abilities, such as strength, constitution, dexterity, intelligence, wisdom and charisma. In layman’s terms, the winner is the one who amasses the highest score.

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
The biog

Family: wife, four children, 11 grandchildren, 16 great-grandchildren

Reads: Newspapers, historical, religious books and biographies

Education: High school in Thatta, a city now in Pakistan

Regrets: Not completing college in Karachi when universities were shut down following protests by freedom fighters for the British to quit India 

 

Happiness: Work on creative ideas, you will also need ideals to make people happy

Company profile

Company name: Fasset
Started: 2019
Founders: Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Daniel Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $2.45 million
Current number of staff: 86
Investment stage: Pre-series B
Investors: Investcorp, Liberty City Ventures, Fatima Gobi Ventures, Primal Capital, Wealthwell Ventures, FHS Capital, VN2 Capital, local family offices

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Revibe
Started: 2022
Founders: Hamza Iraqui and Abdessamad Ben Zakour
Based: UAE
Industry: Refurbished electronics
Funds raised so far: $10m
Investors: Flat6Labs, Resonance and various others

How to wear a kandura

Dos

  • Wear the right fabric for the right season and occasion 
  • Always ask for the dress code if you don’t know
  • Wear a white kandura, white ghutra / shemagh (headwear) and black shoes for work 
  • Wear 100 per cent cotton under the kandura as most fabrics are polyester

Don’ts 

  • Wear hamdania for work, always wear a ghutra and agal 
  • Buy a kandura only based on how it feels; ask questions about the fabric and understand what you are buying
Match info:

Manchester City 2
Sterling (8'), Walker (52')

Newcastle United 1
Yedlin (30')

Lowest Test scores

26 - New Zealand v England at Auckland, March 1955

30 - South Africa v England at Port Elizabeth, Feb 1896

30 - South Africa v England at Birmingham, June 1924

35 - South Africa v England at Cape Town, April 1899

36 - South Africa v Australia at Melbourne, Feb. 1932

36 - Australia v England at Birmingham, May 1902

36 - India v Australia at Adelaide, Dec. 2020

38 - Ireland v England at Lord's, July 2019

42 - New Zealand v Australia in Wellington, March 1946

42 - Australia v England in Sydney, Feb. 1888

Ferrari

Director: Michael Mann

Starring: Adam Driver, Penelope Cruz, Shailene Woodley, Patrick Dempsey

Rating: 3/5

Dengue fever symptoms
  • High fever
  • Intense pain behind your eyes
  • Severe headache
  • Muscle and joint pains
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Swollen glands
  • Rash

If symptoms occur, they usually last for two-seven days

Dengue fever symptoms

High fever (40°C/104°F)
Severe headache
Pain behind the eyes
Muscle and joint pains
Nausea
Vomiting
Swollen glands
Rash

The biog

Name: Sarah Al Senaani

Age: 35

Martial status: Married with three children - aged 8, 6 and 2

Education: Masters of arts in cultural communication and tourism

Favourite movie: Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

Favourite hobbies: Art and horseback ridding

Occupation: Communication specialist at a government agency and the owner of Atelier

Favourite cuisine: Definitely Emirati - harees is my favourite dish


Latest
Most Read
Top Videos

View from DC

The inside scoop from The National’s Washington bureau

      By signing up, I agree to The National's privacy policy
      View from DC