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Source: New York Times

After months of negotiation and weeks of contentious behind-the-scenes bargaining in Washington D.C. the Senate voted 60-39 to move its health care reform bill forward this weekend.

The bill needed 60 affirmative votes to move forward and all Democrats voted “yes” and all Republicans voted “no.”  The Senate expects to begin full debate on the bill after the Thanksgiving recess.

In the end the three Democrats (Senators Ben Nelson (D-NE), Blanche Lincoln (D-AK) and Mary Landrieu (D-LA)) and one Independent (Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT)) who were on the fence cast their votes to support moving the bill forward for debate, however, immediately following her yes vote, Sen. Lincoln made it clear that her support now does not mean she’ll vote to actually pass the bill in the coming weeks, leaving the bill’s fate uncertain.

In Iowa, Senator Tom Harkin who chairs the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee released a statement lauding the vote saying:

“With tonight’s vote, we have arrived at a pivotal moment, an historic moment, in the decades-long march toward passing comprehensive health reform. Tonight we say the Senate will bring The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to the floor and we will work toward lowering costs, guaranteeing affordable coverage for all Americans and improving the quality of care in America. And we will make history by, at long last, passing comprehensive health reform.”

Senator Grassley, ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee was disappointed by the Senate’s action stating:

“We ought to be doing everything possible right now to create jobs, and taxes should be decreased in a recession, not increased. Instead, Senator Reid’s bill raises taxes, penalties and fees immediately, choking off economic recovery.”

IHA is concerned about the coverage levels as presented in the Senate bill, as the Congressional Budget Office indicated the legislation will only expand health care coverage between 92-94 percent of the population.  The bill contains major cuts to Medicare payments to hospitals that were agreed to by the American Hospital Association in exchange for coverage levels at 97 percent of the population.  IHA will continue to work with Iowa’s Congressional Delegation to find ways to increase coverage levels.

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