House health bill ready for its closeup
By Ben Pershing
After months of closed-door negotiations and irritated lawmakers parading in and out of Nancy Pelosi's office, the House's health-care reform bill is finally ready for its closeup.
The measure will be unveiled at 10:30 am Thursday at a pomp-and-circumstance event on the West Front of the Capitol. The Washington Post writes that the bill "includes a government insurance option and a historic expansion of Medicaid, although sticking points in the legislation involving abortion and immigration remain unresolved." Politico gets more details of the work in progress: "The CBO analysis will show that the bill runs surpluses in the first five years and deficits in the second, making it deficit neutral during the first decade. ... A permanent doc fix will be carved out of the reform bill and introduced separately today without pay-fors. ... Drug makers are also getting shellacked. They're looking at between $125 billion and $150 billion in cuts - almost twice the $80 billion they agreed to under the White House deal. ... There's also a 2.5 percent tax on device manufacturers. The bill covers 36 million additional people and, depending on how it's counted, comes in under $900 billion." The Associated Press adds, "The bill would require nearly everyone by 2013 to sign up through their employer, a government program or a new kind of purchasing pool called an exchange. ... During the transition years from 2010-2013, a temporary government program would help people turned down by private insurers because of medical problems, lawmakers said."
As for the bill's offsets, it will include the so-called "millionaire's tax" -- the New York Times says "the tax would hit married couples with adjusted gross incomes exceeding $1 million a year and individuals over $500,000." And the Wall Street Journal notes that "The legislation would require companies with a payroll of $500,000 or more to offer health coverage to employees, or pay a penalty of at least 2% of payroll." The Los Angeles Times contrasts the House's coverage numbers with those of the Senate Finance Committee bill, with would only cover 29 million additional people, and explains that the House measure "will include a complex mechanism for limiting the use of taxpayer subsidies for abortion services: Insurance companies that offer abortion coverage would be required to segregate funds received from consumers from subsidies provided by the federal government."
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