Washington (CNN) — Senators voted 60-39 shortly after 7 a.m today to pass the bill. The bill now moves to a conference committee to reconcile differences with the version passed by the House of Representatives. The Senate health care bill cleared a third and final procedural hurdle Wednesday as Democrats successfully limited remaining debate time on the $871 billion measure.
The victory for President Obama comes after nearly a year of sharply polarized deliberations on Capitol Hill. Any measure passed by the Senate, however, will still have to be merged with a $1 trillion plan approved by the House of Representatives in November.
Increasingly confident Democrats hope to have a bill ready for Obama’s signature before his State of the Union address early next year.
The House and Senate bills agree on a broad range of changes that could impact every American’s coverage.
Here the break down:
• They have agreed to subsidize insurance for a family of four making up to roughly $88,000 annually, or 400 percent of the federal poverty level.
• They also have agreed to create health insurance exchanges designed to make it easier for small businesses, the self-employed and the unemployed to pool resources and purchase less-expensive coverage.
• Both the House plan and the Senate bill would eventually limit total out-of-pocket expenses and prevent insurance companies from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions.
• Insurers also would be barred from charging higher premiums based on a person’s gender or medical history. However, both bills allow insurance companies to charge higher premiums for older customers.
• Medicaid would be significantly expanded under both proposals. The House bill would extend coverage to individuals earning up to 150 percent of the poverty line, or roughly $33,000 for a family of four; the Senate plan ensures coverage to those earning up to 133 percent of the poverty level, or just over $29,000 for a family of four.
Major differences between the bills will be the focus of the conference committee that will try to merge them. House and Senate Democrats are still divided over how to pay for their plans. They are also split on, among other things, language relating to abortion coverage and whether to include a government-run public health insurance option. The House bill includes a public option; the more conservative Senate measure would instead create nonprofit private plans overseen by the federal government.