Finance Committee Approves Baucus’ America’s Healthy Future Act

The Senate Finance Committee today approved Chairman Baucus’ health reform bill, the America’s Healthy Future Act by a vote of 14-9.

You can read the Baucus Press Release yourself.

Portion of Senator Baucus’ Opening Statement at the Mark‐Up

Benjamin Franklin said: “Well done is better than well said.” Now pretty much everything’s been said. Now it’s time to get the job done.

The costs of inaction are clear. Americans simply cannot afford the status quo. Americans are looking for common‐sense solutions. Americans want a balanced plan that takes the best ideas from both sides. And Americans want us to craft a package that will get the 60 votes that it needs to pass.

For 2 years now, that’s exactly what we have been doing, in this Committee. Over the last two years, we held 20 hearings on health care. Last June, we held a health care summit at the Library of Congress.  We held three roundtable discussions with experts on each of the three major areas of reform: health care delivery, coverage, and how to pay for it.  In connection with each roundtable, we put out detailed option papers.  And then we held three walk‐throughs to hash out those options.

Six Members of the Committee — three Republicans and three Democrats — held 31 meetings to try to come to a consensus. We held exhaustive meetings. We met for more than 61 hours. We went the extra mile. And now, we’ve held an open and exhaustive markup. I put out the mark and posted it on the Web on September 16. That was nearly a week before we started the markup. In a first for this Committee, we posted every amendment — all 564 of them — on the Web.

Today’s session to report our bill is our eighth day of meeting. Many of those days were long days. It’s been more than 22 years since the Finance Committee met for eight days on a single bill. Senators offered and the Committee considered 135 amendments. We conducted 79 roll‐call votes. And we adopted 41 amendments. Now, the scores are in. And I am proud to say that our bill passes the test…

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Baucus

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Baucus

…Ours is a balanced plan that can pass the Senate. Our bill should win the support of Republicans and Democrats alike. Now the choice is up to Senators on this Committee.  My Colleagues, this is our opportunity to make history. Our actions here will determine whether we extend better health care to more Americans.

Ben Franklin said that “well done is better than well said.” Senators, now is the time that will tell whether things are merely said, or whether something is actually done. Now is the time to get this done. Let us enact this balanced, common health care system to control costs and premiums.  And let us extend health care coverage to all Americans.

Full Opening Statement is available here: http://finance.senate.gov/press/Bpress/2009press/prb101309.pdf