House Democrats May Unveil Health Bill Today
"House Democrats say they are on track to release a working draft of their health care overhaul on Friday, although a bipartisan group of lawmakers said Thursday that they are worried about the process getting bogged down," Roll Call reports. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., "held a series of health care meetings Thursday afternoon with chairmen and others writing the health care bill, which will include a public health plan, a tax on employers that don't provide health care and a requirement that individuals buy health insurance." At a press conference advocating for "a more bipartisan approach to crafting the overhaul," Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., a member of the Blue Dog Coalition, "said that health reform already appears to be bogging down in the Senate and argued against going the route of using reconciliation to jam through a bill with just 51 votes" (Dennis, 6/18).
Meanwhile, the AP/Washington Post reports that "House Democrats have lots of potential targets for higher taxes as they aim to expand health care coverage, from wealthy Americans and the nation's employers to anyone who pops the top on a soft drink. Also under consideration are higher alcohol taxes, increases to the Medicare payroll tax and a value-added tax, a sort of national sales tax, of up to 1.5 percent or more." The House Ways and Means Committee is aiming to "raise some $600 billion over 10 years to partially pay" for a health care overhaul. But the draft of the House bill being released today "was not expected to mention the potentially unpopular tax options" (Werner, 6/19).
Rep. Pelosi "said on Thursday a new self-sufficient government medical plan under President Barack Obama's healthcare reform would be part of House legislation," Reuters reports. "I have every confidence that we will have a public option coming out of the House of Representatives -- that will be one that is actuarially sound, administratively self-sufficient, one that contributes as to competition, does not eliminate competition,' Pelosi told a news conference. 'It may not be called public option but it will be a level playing field," she said." She also "said the government plan, once established, would not receive continuing government funding" (Smith, 6/18).