On October 13, the Senate Finance Committee approved Senator Max Baucus’s (D–Montana) $829 billion health care reform bill, according to U.S. News and World Report. More than half of the money will help low-income Americans afford health insurance.

The bill was approved with a 14 to 9 vote, with moderate Senator Olympia Snow (Maine) being the only Republican member of the committee to vote in favor of the measure.

According to the article, about $340 billion will go toward expanding existing government programs that cover children and the lowest-income Americans. Funding for the bill will be raised by taxing expensive insurance plans, fining people who refuse to buy insurance and curbing government payments to health care providers who treat Medicare patients.

The bill also establishes a Medicare Commission, an independent group comprised of doctors and policy experts that will propose spending cuts if government spending on health care is not sufficiently reduced.

The bill is expected to lower the federal budget deficit by $81 billion over the next decade.
Tuesday’s vote was only the first step in this process, which will unfold in the weeks to come. With the bill out of committee, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid must now combine it with the Senate Health Committee’s reform bill.