The House bill also pays for the $1.2 trillion costs over 10 years with more than $400 billion in cuts in Medicare spending over the same period.
Democrats Thursday passed, by a vote of 61-39 and some bipartisan support, a proposal by Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., that would require insurers to cover and provide women access to preventive screenings such as mammograms in the basic health care overhaul plans. It also mandates that all health plans cover women's preventive care and screenings with no copayments. The proposal is expected to add nearly $1 billion to the overall cost and was rejected by two Democrats.
Reid hailed Mikulski's measure.
"Sen. Mikulski of Maryland -- who for decades has been a champion for women's health -- made it better by making sure women can get the mammograms, check-ups and other preventive tests they need to stay healthy, and get them at no cost," Reid said on the Senate floor
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, offered an alternative, saying the government should not determine health guidelines based on the recommendations of the government-appointed U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which made the controversial recommendation last month that women didn't require mammograms as frequently and women between 50 and 74 should have it every other year instead of annually. The amendment, which would also have barred abortion from being considered as a preventive service, was rejected.
McConnell argued Saturday that Republicans are responding to public pressure to oppose the legislation.
"What I hear the American people saying to us, 'Vote for this bill and you'll be history," McConnell said on the Senate floor. "This is not in the gray area. The American people are asking us to stop this bill and start over."
In a heated exchange, McCain accused Democrats of hatching a deal with medical industry lobbyists behind closed doors to get their support for the bill despite cuts to Medicare home health services.
"I don't know what the deal was cut that bought them, but I know deals have been going on and I know they are unsavory," McCain said.
A Republican amendment that would have sent the bill back to the Senate Finance Committee to restore home health care cuts failed 41-53 Saturday. A Democratic amendment stating that nothing in the bill would result in the reduction of home health care benefits passed 96-0.
At a news conference, Republican leader McConnell was asked to speculate on why Democrats were keeping the Senate working on weekends. He argued that Democrats thought Republicans would blink if forced to work on weekends but he vowed they would not.
But even among Democrats, deep divisions remain, guaranteeing a rocky road as the debate approaches its final phases, with a vote expected by month's end.
Meanwhile, moderate and liberal Democrats and a few moderate Republicans are negotiating behind closed doors on a health care bill that would get the 60 votes it needs to pass on the floor. Republican senator Olympia Snowe participated in a separate meeting with moderate Democrats Saturday.
Senators Thursday voted on four amendments in the 2,000-plus-page legislation, mostly on party lines. Nearly 72 amendments have been proposed for the bill, crafted chiefly by Reid.