Barack Obama’s healthcare reform bill has passed its first Senate test. The chamber approved a procedural vote by 60 to 39, along party lines.
It means the Bill can now be debated and amended – a process which is expected to take three weeks. The House of Representatives approved its version earlier this month – eventually the two will have to be reconciled before the president can sign a final measure. Obama has made the reforms a priority. Democrats say they will expand healthcare cover to 31 million Americans currently uninsured. They will also bar insurance companies from refusing cover on pre existing medical conditions. But the two bills differ on several points including obliging all but the smallest companies to provide coverage to staff.- the Senate bill will merely fine companies if they don’t. Republicans reflecting the strong opposition in the country say the measures are unaffordable and will lead to higher premiums and higher taxes.