Federal Healthcare Update

October 29, 2009

Pardon Our Dust

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By Mona Mohib:
The top news in health care reform today was the release of the 1,990 page House health care bill, H.R. 3962, which is expected to be on the House floor late next week. The final version of the health care reform bill blended elements passed by the Energy and Commerce, Ways and Means, and Education and Labor Committees, and appears to have the support of the majority of the Democrats in the House. Several notable Congressmen who had withheld their support, including Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-ND), Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA), and Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy (D-OH), have pledged to support this bill. No Republicans are expected to vote for the bill.
The bill includes a public insurance option that would have the government negotiate rates with health care providers, along with both an individual mandate and a mandate that employers offer coverage. As a trade off for the less robust version of the public option, Medicaid will be expanded to cover all those under 150% of the federal poverty level. For revenue raisers, the bill includes a surtax on married couples with adjusted gross incomes exceeding $1 million a year and individuals over $500,000, as well as a 2.5 percent excise tax on certain medical devices.
The bill has not yet been officially scored by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), but is expected to come in under the $900 billion mark. A CBO analysis could be released as soon as tomorrow. That will give us the official cost and number of Americans who would be insured under the bill. House Democratic leadership estimates that number is around 96%.
In the Senate, negotiations continue as Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) tries to fashion a bill that will get enough support on the floor.