The U.S. Senate Finance Committee has begun debate on a health care reform proposal that its author, Democratic committee chairman Max Baucus, says is the most likely plan to draw bipartisan support.
Baucus, from the western U.S. state of Montana, unveiled his 10-year, $856 billion plan last week. Since its introduction, it has been criticized both by fellow Democrats and opposition Republicans, and has drawn some 564 potential amendments.
Aides to Baucus say he made revisions to the original proposal, in order to satisfy those who said more needed to be done to make health insurance more affordable.
The measure would require individuals to have health insurance, but it does not include a provision for the controversial government-run health plan that President Barack Obama had envisioned. It also calls for expanding Medicaid, the nation's health care program for low-income Americans.
Baucus calls his plan a "balanced, common sense package" that would not increase the government's budget deficit.
President Obama has pledged to get health care reform passed before the end of the year.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.