Monday, October 19, 2009

Senate health reform bill S. 1796 weighs in at 1,502 pages


October 19, 2009 | Politico

Read the entire 1,502 pages of the Finance bill.

Read a document outlining the concerns of Sens. Kerry, Schumer, Menendez, Stabenow and Rockefeller that the tax on high-end plans will hit plans that are not overly generous.

Read Sen. Rockefeller's expanded views on reform.

UPDATE 2: The Senate Finance Committee filed its sweeping health care reform bill Monday and its release served largely to highlight the divisions among Democrats over the direction of reform.

The massive, 1,500 page bill is expected to serve as the backbone for Democratic reform efforts going forward and five senators expressed concerns about one of its main provisions, a 40 percent tax on high-end insurance plans.

The tax is designed to pay for reform and lower costs by making the so-called Cadillac plans less attractive for insurers to offer. Under the bill, a plan that costs an individual more than $8,000 and a family more than $21,000 annually would be subject to the tax.

But Democratic Sens. John Kerry, Chuck Schumer, Robert Menendez, Debbie Stabenow and Jay Rockefeller are concerned that the threshold that defines a Cadillac plan is too low and will whack middle-class people.

“We remain concerned that the thresholds are too low and will impact plans that are not overly generous and that in 2019 far too many plans will be impacted by the excise tax. We plan to continue to work with Chairman Baucus on this issue to ensure that provision bends the cost curve, but not at the expense of middle-income Americans,” the senators wrote in a one-page “additional views” document that was released with the bill.

The document is reminiscent of a dissent that is filed with the majority opinion in a court case.

Rockefeller filed his own 13-page additional views document that spelled out his concerns, many of which he aired during the eight-day mark up of the bill. The West Virginia Democrat remains concerns that the bill does not contain a public option; that it does not uniformly apply insurance market reforms and that state-based exchanges designed to help people buy insurance will not be as effective as a single national one.

UPDATE 3: It's important to remember that the bill won't exist in this form for long. Senate Majority Leader Reid and Sens. Max Baucus and Chris Dodd along with senior White House aides are merging the Finance and Health Committee legislation into one bill that will be considered on the floor of the Senate. The behind-closed-doors dealings have drawn criticism from Republicans, particularly because President Obama had promised a transparent process and pledged to negotiate the health care bill on C-SPAN.

No comments: