Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee reduced penalties for those without health insurance, but not as much as Republicans want.
Backers of the public option will draw hope from the vote, which was closer than expected. But tough healthcare negotiations lie ahead.
Women are more vulnerable to a healthcare system with soaring costs and with restrictions that hurt them specifically.
Finance Committee cuts 61 amendments, leaving just 503 to go. Among the major issues remaining: a public option.
With Obama tied up at the UN, Vice President Biden is out front on health reform. On Wednesday, he reassured seniors in suburban Maryland about their Medicare coverage.
The Senate Finance Committee hopes to produce the last of Congress's five draft healthcare bills this week. Then begins the difficult process of melding them together.
Forget Republicans. Democrats need to bring together their own centrists concerned about cost as well as liberals who still want a public option.
Republicans say it's too costly. Liberal Democrats complain that it doesn't do enough for the uninsured. But unlike House plans, it wouldn't add to the deficit.
No Republican has signed on yet to the healthcare "compromise" plan released Wednesday by Senate Finance Committee chair Max Baucus.