Political blog KeithHennessey.com recently published an in-depth analysis on understanding the House Democrats’ new health care bill. I’ve included a clip from the article below, but be sure to check out his full post here.
Yesterday I posted and described the draft Kennedy-Dodd health care bill. Today I would like to do the same for an outline produced by House Democrats.
Here is a three-page outline of “Key Features of the Tri-Committee Health Reform Draft Proposal in the House of Representatives,” dated yesterday (June 8, 2009).
The three committees are:
The House Ways & Means Committee, chaired by Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY). The Health Subcommittee is chaired by Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA).
The House Energy & Commerce Committee, chaired by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA). The Health Subcommittee is chaired by Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ).
The House Committee on Education & Labor, chaired by Rep. George Miller (D-CA). The Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions Subcommittee is chaired by Rep. Robert Andrews (D-NJ).
The document suggests this is a joint product of the three committees and/or their subcommittees. My sense, however, is that it is Speaker Pelosi who is driving the bus. This is in contrast to the Senate, where the committee chairmen (Kennedy/Dodd and Baucus) appear to have the pen, in less well-coordinated efforts.
Kennedy-Dodd and the House bill outline are remarkably similar. Whether this represents House-Senate coordination or parallel thought processes is unclear.
I think the easiest way for me to present the House bill outline is in comparison with the Kennedy-Dodd bill. So here my description from yesterday of the Kennedy-Dodd bill, with today’s comparison to the House bill outline in red. I hope it’s comprehensible and useful this way. If you read yesterday’s post, you can skim the text in black and focus on the new text in blue.
Here are 15 things to know about the draft Kennedy-Dodd health bill and the House bill outline.
1. The Kennedy-Dodd bill would create an individual mandate requiring you to buy a “qualified” health insurance plan, as defined by the government. If you don’t have “qualified” health insurance for a given month, you will pay a new Federal tax. Incredibly, the amount and structure of this new tax is left to the discretion of the Secretaries of Treasury and Health and Human Services (HHS), whose only guidance is “to establish the minimum practicable amount that can accomplish the goal of enhancing participation in qualifying coverage (as so defined).” The new Medical Advisory Council (see #3D) could exempt classes of people from this new tax. To avoid this tax, you would have to report your health insurance information for each month of the prior year to the Secretary of HHS, along with “any such other information as the Secretary may prescribe.”
The House bill also contains an individual mandate. The outline is less specific but parallel: “Once market reforms and affordability credits are in effect to ensure access and affordability, individuals are responsible for having health insurance with an exception in cases of hardship.”
2. The Kennedy-Dodd bill would also create an employer mandate. Employers would have to offer insurance to their employees. Employers would have to pay at least a certain percentage (TBD) of the premium, and at least a certain dollar amount (TBD). Any employer that did not would pay a new tax. Again, the amount and structure of the tax is left to the discretion of the Secretaries of Treasury and HHS. Small employers (TBD) would be exempt.
The House bill outline also contains an employer mandate that appears to parallel that in Kennedy-Dodd: “Employers choose between providing coverage for their workers or contributing funds on behalf of their uncovered workers.”