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Kennedy-Dodd cmte passes health bill

From NBC's Mark Murray
Breaking News: "The Senate health committee has passed legislation to revamp health care, becoming the first congressional committee to act on President Barack Obama's goal of overhauling the U.S. medical system this year," the AP writes. 
"The Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee voted 13-10 to pass a $600-billion measure that would expand coverage to nearly all Americans by requiring individuals to get insurance and employers to contribute to the cost. The bill would provide federal aid to families and individuals making less than four times the U.S. poverty level, or about $88,000 for a family of four."

Video: The Senate health committee passes a bill aimed at revamping health care. It's the first congressional committee to act on President Obama's goal of overhauling the system this year.

Senate Republicans are currently holding a press conference saying it was "regrettable" they weren't at the table to help draft the legislation.

*** UPDATE *** NBC's Ken Strickland has more: "This bill must now be merged with the Senate Finance Committee bill before it goes to the floor. But the Finance Committee hasn't even introduced its bill yet. Of the five committees in Congress writing health-care bills, only the Senate HELP committee has moved its version of the bill out of committee."

"Yesterday, the three House committees writing health-care reform introduced their bills together as one big bill. The next step in the House is for each committee to separately pass their own versions out of committee, merge them into one bill, and then have a vote on the floor. Democratic leaders in the House and the Senate believe -- or at least hope -- to have each chamber pass their bills before the August recess. However, some Democrats involved privately admit it will be a challenge to reach that goal."