Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Comparison of Democratic Health Care Bills

The United States Senate voted last week to debate their health care bill, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. However, their legislation is significantly different than the bill passed by the House of Representatives a few weeks ago. To help anyone curious about the differences between the two Democratic bills, ABC News has put together this informative article. I’ve included a few sections about each bill, but be sure to checkout the full text here.

The Senate Democratic bill (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act):

        WHO'S COVERED: About 94 percent of legal residents under age 65 — compared with 83 percent now. Government subsidies to help buy coverage start in 2014. Illegal immigrants would not receive assistance.

COST: Coverage provisions cost $848 billion over 10 years.

        HOW IT'S PAID FOR: Fees on insurance companies, drugmakers, medical device manufacturers. Medicare payroll tax increased to 1.95 percent on income over $200,000 a year for individuals; $250,000 for couples. New 5 percent tax on elective cosmetic surgery. Cuts to Medicare and Medicaid. Excise tax on insurance companies, keyed to premiums paid on health care plans costing more than $8,500 annually for individuals and $23,000 for families. Fees on employers whose workers receive government subsidies to help them pay premiums. Fines on people who fail to purchase coverage.

The House bill (Affordable Health Care for America Act):

        WHO'S COVERED: About 96 percent of legal residents under age 65 — compared with 83 percent now. Government subsidies to help buy coverage start in 2013. About one-third of the remaining 18 million people under age 65 left uninsured would be illegal immigrants.

        COST: The Congressional Budget Office says the bill's cost of expanding insurance coverage over 10 years is $1.055 trillion. The net cost is $894 billion, factoring in penalties on individuals and employers who don't comply with new requirements. That's under President Barack Obama's $900 billion goal. However, those figures leave out a variety of new costs in the bill, including increased prescription drug coverage for seniors under Medicare, so the measure may be around $1.2 trillion.

        HOW IT'S PAID FOR: $460 billion over the next decade from new income taxes on single people making more than $500,000 a year and couples making more than $1 million. The original House bill taxed individuals making $280,000 a year and couples making more than $350,000, but the threshold was increased in response to lawmakers' concerns that the taxes would hit too many people and small businesses.

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