The House Shows Its Hand on Health Reform
The outline of the House health-care plan -- called the "Tri-Committee" plan because it's the joint product of Energy and Commerce, Ways and Means, and Education and Labor -- is about what you'd expect and pretty close to what you'd hope: Strong public plan, subsidies to 400 percent of poverty, expansion of Medicaid to 133 percent of poverty, caps on out-of-pocket spending, a national Health Insurance Exchange that employers can buy into, and so on. You can download the fact sheet here.
It will be interesting to see the Congressional Budget Office score this proposal. In particular, that will give us a concrete estimate of how much money a strong public plan can, or cannot, save. It will give us a concrete estimate of how much a strong insurance exchange does, or does not, save. It will, in other words, clarify the tradeoffs between various choices considerably. It will be much less viable for the Senate to scale back its legislation on grounds of cost if it has not included policies the Congressional Budget Office has scored as producing significant savings.
That will be particularly true when the two plans come to conference. In the Senate, the Finance Committee must soon reconcile its bill with the more liberal legislation being considered by the HELP Committee. If the product of those negotiations passes the Senate, and this bill passes the House, then the two bills will need to be reconciled with each other. And it will be hard, I imagine, for Senate negotiators to explain to House negotiators that they need to cover fewer people because Blanche Lincoln doesn't want insurers to compete with a public plan.
Photo credit: AP Photo/Susan Walsh.
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