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Comparing the HELP and Finance bills

David writes in:

I was wondering if you could explain what is in the HELP committee bill that's not in the Finance committee bill. I think I speak for a lot of people who have been following the HC debate for the past couple of months when I say that I understand that the finance committee had jurisdiction over taxes and whatnot and the HELP Committee did not. And I think I even now have a pretty complete understanding of what the Finance bill says in that regard (in large part thanks to you!)

But the same cannot be said for the HELP bill. What did they take on that the Finance committee didn't? And what does it actually say in terms of those issues? I know it has a public option and that's about it. Could you help clear that up, or perhaps direct readers to a nice synopsis of the bill's main portions?

I doubt I could do a better job than Jeffrey Young does here, so I won't try. The short version is that the big differences are subsidies, where the HELP bill is about $300 billion more generous; the individual mandate, where the HELP bill is stronger; the employer mandate, where the HELP bill has one and the Finance bill simply has this insane "free rider" clause; and the public option, where the HELP bill has a public option and the Finance Committee's bill doesn't.

Of these issues, the one that's getting the least attention, but may be the most important in the merger negotiations, is the employer mandate. It raises money, expands health-care coverage, polls well, pleases unions, and infuriates employers. Olympia Snowe, in particular, has been a vocal skeptic.

By Ezra Klein  |  October 21, 2009; 10:03 AM ET
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Comments

the employer mandate also disincentivizes employment in a time when the unemployment rate is around 10%.

Posted by: jfcarro | October 21, 2009 10:31 AM | Report abuse

"Olympia Snowe, in particular, has been a vocal skeptic."

... of having an employer mandate or of NOT having an employer mandate?

(Just checking.)

Posted by: westofthedc | October 21, 2009 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Whether the HELP bill has a public option is very much open to debate. The legislative language is almost incomprehensible and seems to suggest that the government would contract with insurers to provide coverage. That is not a public option in my book. (see PNHP.org for their concerns)

Posted by: bmull | October 21, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse

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