On July 15, 2009, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) approved its health reform plan, the “Affordable Health Choices Act,” on a party-line 13-to-10 vote. The major features of the legislation are summarized in a previous posting. Note that the HELP Committee does not have jurisdiction over Medicare or Medicaid; provisions impacting those programs will be included in the Senate Finance Committee health reform bill. A group of Finance Committee members are still meeting to agree on a bipartisan bill, but panel members are no longer predicting when the details of a compromise package may be released. After Finance Committee action, the two Committee packages then will be combined for consideration by the full Senate, likely sometime in the fall.

Sept. 2, 2009 update: The HELP Committee has finally released the version of the health reform bill adopted by the panel on July 15, 2009.