Health care reform cleared another major hurdle this morning as the Senate voted 60-39, on straight party lines, to approve its version of the reform bill passed earlier by the House.
Because of the differences between the two bills, a conference committee will begin working after the holiday break to hammer out compromise legislation.
Both of Colorado's senators already have released statements this morning.
Sen. Mark Udall:
“Before I cast this vote I was thinking of the families and small business owners I have talked to from across the state, who have shared their stories and described their need for a more stable and cost effective health care system. They told me they wanted legislation that would guarantee insurance companies will keep their promises to their consumers. And they told me they are concerned about the impact rising health care costs have on our national debt and about the strength of Medicare for the long-term.
“The bill is far from perfect, and it doesn’t include everything I would like. But it is a solid foundation that will give families the security they need to stay healthy, provide entrepreneurs the freedom to start a business, and begin to rein in health care costs and get control of our skyrocketing debt. And I am particularly pleased that this bill contains provisions I proposed to encourage innovation and ensure that health reform doesn’t leave rural America behind.
“While Senate passage of this bill is a major milestone in the journey toward meaningful health insurance reform, there is still work to be done in a conference committee with the House. I will spend the coming weeks fighting to ensure that the final legislation keeps faith with the people of Colorado.”
Sen. Michael Bennet:
"Today I voted for a health care reform bill that will bring meaningful change to Coloradans. Reform that provides coverage to 840,000 uninsured Coloradans, extends and protects Medicare for our seniors and provides free preventive care for everyone. Reform that provides tax cuts to small businesses and eliminates exclusions based on pre-existing conditions. And, as promised, I voted for health care reform that doesn't add a dime to the deficit.
"This bill will make a substantial difference in the lives of Coloradans who are doing jobs much harder than those in Washington, working late into the night, and taking an extra shift before Christmas so they can afford that extra gift beneath the tree. It is for those Americans who are unemployed in this savage economy and still trying to make sure the kids know they are remembered during this holiday season.
"For Colorado, this bill will help over 68,000 small businesses provide health care coverage for their employees as they have always tried to do. It makes health care more accessible and more affordable in rural areas by making sure doctors receive a fair rate of return for the quality care they provide. And for the nearly 500,000 seniors in Colorado, it strengthens and protects Medicare while ensuring seniors don't see a single cut to their guaranteed benefits.
"I do not support the special deals in this bill. I continue to believe we should include a public option. And I have been disappointed by weeks of delay tactics that have done nothing but expose a broken Washington.
"However, this bill is about the Coloradans and all Americans who just want a decent shot at the American dream. It's about lowering skyrocketing health care costs and reducing the deficit by nearly $1.3 trillion over the next 20 years. It's about ensuring the strength of Medicare for years to come and bringing much-needed, improved and affordable care to working families.
"After decades of trying, we finally passed a bill that saves money, saves lives and gives families a fighting chance against relentless insurance company abuses.
"I will continue to push for improvements in this bill as we move toward the conference report and a final bill."