Both House And Senate Are Yet To Come Up With Final Health Care Package
There is no public option or more specifically, no government-sponsored insurance plan, in the latest Finance Committee bill that was approved Tuesday. There is also no requirement on employers forcing them to offer coverage. Instead, the only requirement is that all Americans must obtain insurance.
The bill passed earlier by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, by a group in which the dominate element was liberals, requires the creation of both a government plan that would compete with the private insurance industry and includes the mandate that employers are required to help in the coverage of their employees. These represent only two of the more than dozens of differences.
Even the president Obama, is acknowledging that getting a bill passed will not be simple. While giving a speech last in the White House Rose Garden, Obama referred to 14-9 Finance Committee vote as being a critical step the accomplishment of a total health care overhaul during this year. When Senator Snowe, Republican from Maine, added her support to the legislation, she represented the first Republican support to break ranks with her party to do so. She said she was responding to an historic call.
For Obama it was too soon to feel good about this. He said that it is too soon to get happy about this but that the Democrats need to work even harder.
There was also no victory parade for Senator Max Baucus of Montana, the Finance Committee Chairman. He stressed that the real need at this point was to come up with a final bill, a combined bill that is capable of receiving the needed 60 votes to pass. He said that the goal should be to get health care reform passed and to not just talk about it.
Aides are saying that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada has a clear sense of what the Senate is willing to pass and he is concentrating on seeking out a solution that is capable of receiving the 60 needed votes to overcome a possible Republican filibuster.
Generally the bills that are coming up for votes on the Senate floor and in the House, will require that most Americans purchase some health care insurance, will make available federal subsidies for helping lower income individuals to afford coverage and will provide small businesses with help to defray the cost of providing health care coverage to their employees.
The bills coming up will stop the practice of insurance companies of denying coverage based on pre-existing medical conditions and both will for the first time place a limit on their being able to charge higher premiums based on age or number of family members. It is expected that the added cost of coverage will be funded through significant cutbacks of hundreds of billions of dollars affecting future Medicare payments being made to health care providers. Each of the two house is also looking forward to increased taxes through the application of an income tax surcharge to be applied to million-dollar wage-earners as included in the House bill, and the introduction of an excise levy on insurance companies that sell high-cost policies being included in the Senate Finance Committee bill.
Those in opposition to the bill are citing the introduction of higher taxes, more authority being given to the feds over the insurance industry and other matters of concern.
Nancy Pelosi, the house Speaker and her aids, have been working for weeks to find a way to combine the elements of the legislation that has been so far approved by three House committees. It is believed that in the end any legislation will certainly include a government option, but so far no details are available of any final plan over which congressional leaders have been struggling.
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