House Democrats Prepare For Thursday Release Of Health Bill
The Associated Press: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is making plans to release on Thursday morning the House version of sweeping health reform legislation, depending on the outcome of a Wednesday afternoon meeting with House leaders. "The rollout would cap months of arduous negotiations to bridge differences between liberal and moderate Democrats and blend health care overhaul bills passed by three separate committees over the summer. The developments in the House came as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid tried to round up support among moderate Democrats for his bill, which includes a modified government insurance option that states could opt out of."
The House's final product includes "new requirements for employers to offer insurance to their workers or face penalties, fines on Americans who don't purchase coverage and subsidies to help lower-income people do so. Insurance companies would face new prohibitions against charging much more to older people or denying coverage to people with health conditions." It's price tag, which exceeds $1 trillion over 10 years, "would be paid for by taxing high-income people and cutting some $500 billion in payments to Medicare providers. The legislation would extend health coverage to around 95 percent of Americans." House leaders would like to begin debate on the measure next week with an eye on finishing before Veteran's Day.
"In the end, Pelosi, D-Calif., and other House leaders were unable to round up the necessary votes for their preferred version of the government insurance plan - one that would base payment rates to providers on rates paid by Medicare. Instead, the Health and Human Services secretary would negotiate rates with providers, the approach preferred by moderates and the one that will be featured in the Senate's version (Werner, 10/28).
MSNBC is also reporting that House Democrats will hold an event tomorrow morning to announce "the outline" of the health bill they plan to move to the floor. "And it looks like the "robust" public option is a bust: The measure is not expected to include the reimbursement rate to medical professions based on Medicare, plus 5%. Instead, it will include a public option based on rates negotiated region by region (Viqueira, 10/28).
The Hill: "Majority Whip James Clyburn's (D-S.C.) office has acknowledged that the liberal public option does not have the votes to pass, and an internal whip list that was leaked on Tuesday night put the tally of robust public option 'no' votes at 47, nine more than Democrats can afford to lose" (Allen and Soraghan, 10/28).