HEALTH CARE

Does Reid Have the Votes?

Majority Leader Harry Reid said the first key vote on the Senate health-care bill will be held Saturday. Reid wouldn't say whether he has the 60 votes he needs, and with all 40 Republicans expected to vote against it, he needs to hold on to three wavering moderate Democrats. Reid also noted he would not pass the bill using the reconciliation process—which would require only 51 votes. The $847 billion package, presented by Reid Wednesday, would extend health-care coverage to 31 million Americans by dramatically expanding Medicaid and including a public option with the ability for states to opt out. The package will be funded, in part, by an increase in taxes, especially for high earners. Republicans are already decrying the cost of the plan, saying the increased Medicaid coverage would put a heavy burden on financially strapped states. All 40 Senate Republicans are expected to block the legislation from moving forward, and Reid has declined to comment on whether he has the 58 Democrats and two independents he needs to get the bill through. On the issue of abortion, which proved a tricky in the House, Reid proposed a "firewall" that would separate private premiums from federal funding if abortion were to be included in the public-insurance plan.