President Obama's push for sweeping health-care reform is poised to clear a key hurdle, said John Whitesides in Reuters, as the Democratic-controlled Senate Finance Committee finally votes Tuesday on Chairman Max Baucus' plan. It is expected to be approved—but watch to see whether any Democrats defect, or if Sen. Olympia Snowe, a moderate Republican from Maine, becomes the first in her party to side with Democrats, who have no margin for error if they want to maintain a filibuster-proof 60-vote majority.
"With few, if any, Republicans expected to support the bill," said Shailagh Murray and Lori Montgomery in The Washington Post, Democrats are already negotiating among themselves to reconcile the various measures passed by House and Senate committees. Part of that process will be "reviving ideas that had been discarded," including a new version of a government-run insurance plan to compete with private insurers. Whatever happens, the finance panel's vote "marks a watershed" in health reform, as no such bill has come so far since Theodore Roosevelt proposed universal health care during the 1912 presidential campaign.
"It may be too late to stop the train," said The Wall Street Journal in an editorial, but at least the health-care industry appears to be coming to its senses, after doctors and insurers allowed themselves to be used as pro-reform "Rose Garden props" for months. "The best scales-from-the-eyes moment" came from America's Health Insurance Plans, the industry lobby, which released a PricewaterhouseCoopers study showing that the Baucus bill would add some $1,700 a year to the cost of family coverage in 2013. The industry is in for some pain, but "the tragedy is that the biggest losers will be average Americans."