POSTED: Tuesday, October 13, 2009 - 9:48am
UPDATED: Wednesday, February 17, 2010 - 2:25pm
The Senate Finance Committee will vote today on the health care reform package...
Today's vote is the biggest test so far of the President's health care reform push.
An effort, aides said, is under an 11th hour industry attack.
Nancy Ann DeParle, Director of the White House Office of Health Reform said, "Yes. I did feel blindsided. I feel we were working constructively."
The Senate measure would extend coverage to millions of uninsured, bar insurers from dropping or denying coverage and its 829 billion dollar tab over ten years, backers say, would be paid for.
The insurance industry claims a study it paid for shows if the measure passes, watch Americans' premiums rise.
Mike Tuffin, Executive VP of America's Health Insurance Plans, or AHIP said, "That flies in the face of health care reform, which is to bring down the cost of coverage."
The plan's main author, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Max Baucus, says that’s not true.
"There are a lot of things in our bill that would cause premiums to go down," said Baucus.
The Baucus plan would leave 17 million Americans still uninsured. They'd pay a penalty, but insurers say it’s too little to offset the costs of charity care when they get sick.
Robert Zirkelbach of AHIP said, "That drives up costs for all policy holders."
The White House calls that insurers' excuse to hike premiums and profits.
"They'll be making billions more in profits from getting all Americans covered. And if we're going to ask Americans to step up and have a responsibility to get covered, and help them with tax credits to pay for it, then the insurance industry should pay something too," said Deparle.
But Max Baucus himself admits a lot of unknowns about reform's long-term costs.