A sweeping health care reform bill backed by President Barack Obama that promises to expand insurance coverage to 31 million more Americans at a whopping cost of $ 849 billion over a decade was unveiled today and is now set for a key test vote in the US Senate.
"We have travelled a long way to where we are, and (now) begins the last leg of this journey," Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said while unveiling the 2,074-page Senate bill.
"The finish line is really in sight," Reid said as the Senate is expected to vote on the bill as early as Saturday.
Obama, who has made health care overhaul his top domestic priority, hailed the new legislation as "a critical milestone" that brought the United States "closer than ever" to a better health care system.
"From day one, our goal has been to enact legislation that offers stability and security to those who have insurance and affordable coverage to those who don't, and that lowers costs for families, businesses and governments across the country," Obama said in a statement, adding that the Senate proposal "meets those principles."
The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has determined that the Senate bill would cut federal deficits by $ 130 billion over the next decade.
The proposal drafted from two separate bills approved by Senate committees now goes to the full Senate, where Republicans have vowed to try to block it.