Health Care

All Eyes on Olympia Snowe

Next week, the powerful Senate Finance Committee will likely pass their version of a health-care bill, as Democrats enjoy a 13-10 majority on the committee. Still, having Olympia Snowe, the Republican senator from Maine, vote for the bill would be a powerful symbol of bipartisanship that could help the bill's chances once it reaches the floor. Snowe, for her part, has not revealed which way she will vote. She has expressed great concern over the requirement that everyone have health insurance or else face a stiff penalty. "Why punish the average family or the individual to pay the onerous penalty? I just don't get it," Snowe said. The bill has been tweaked to accommodate those concerns, but Snowe said, "I've got to review the document and go from there. There's a lot to think about." Snowe could help overcome a potential filibuster by Republicans when the bill hits the floor. Lawmakers are still debating whether to offer larger tax credits to help people buy mandatory insurance or to exempt Americans who can't afford to buy it. Keeping the bill within the budget while beefing up financial assistance is a challenge.