A key Congressional committee has approved President Obama’s planned healthcare overhaul, which will extend health coverage to a further 29 million Americans.The vote of 14-9 in favour is a major victory for the president who sees healthcare as a key domestic issue. The bill has now been backed by the influential Republican Senator Olympia Snowe, who said: “Finally I say; my vote today is my vote today. It does not forecast what my vote will be tomorrow.” The Finance Committee is the last of five Senate panels to look at the issue before formal debate begins in the upper house. President Obama explained why he wants the bill passed: “Most importantly, this bill goes a long way towards offering security to those who have insurance and affordable options for those who don’t. It reins in some of the worst practices of the insurance industry, like the denial of coverage due to pre-existing conditions. “And, as the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has certified, it will slow the growth of health care costs in the long term, and it will not add a penny to our deficit.” Republicans condemned the plan as a costly and heavy-handed intrusion into the private healthcare system. The bill, which was drafted after weeks of bitterly bipartisan debate, sets out a 10-year 556 billion euro plan to slash health costs and provide affordable health insurance to most Americans. But this is not the end of the operation. There are many more legislative hoops to jump through before the bill becomes law.