A key U.S. congressional panel has approved legislation to reform the American health care system.

The House of Representatives' Energy and Commerce committee voted 31 to 28 late Friday to back a measure aimed at extending health insurance to Americans not now covered.

Congress is about to adjourn for an August recess.  But now that the committee has approved the bill, it can move to the full House as early as September.

A major part of the legislation involves creating a public health insurance plan.  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi - a Democrat - says the changes will stop the insurance industry from coming between doctors and patients.

But minority Republicans say the proposal costs too much and is the first step toward a government takeover of health care.


Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.