The Vermont Senate gave final approval to health care reform legislation Tuesday.
The vote came after lengthy debate on amendments-- many of them aimed at making the bill more palatable for businesses. Republicans introduced several amendments that they say would reduce the costs for businesses. But the strong Democratic majority easily rejected those amendments.
After giving preliminary approval to the health care reform bill on Monday, lawmakers considered several amendments Tuesday. Many were aimed at making the bill more business friendly after several businesses, including IBM, voiced concerns.
"This amendment simply says that we respect and appreciate the jobs in Vermont," said Sen. Hinda Miller, D-Chittenden County.
"The one thing that is certain is that if we continue to move in the direction that we are moving, the certainty is that their costs will continue to increase," said Sen. Anthony Pollina, D-Washington County.
Most of the amendments that would have made significant changes to the health care bill were defeated, including changes that Republicans called benefits to the business community. The bill passed 21-9.
So now the bill will enter a conference committee to reconcile the differences between the Senate proposal and the version that passed through the House. Then it will be sent to Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vermont, for signing.
The bill won't actually mean much for Vermonters at first. One main aspect of the bill is creation of a health care exchange. That's actually required under federal health care reform. It means setting up a marketplace for individuals and companies to shop for insurance coverage. That doesn't take effect until 2014, so we won't know for awhile what that will look like.