Roundup: A Medicare Payroll Tax, The Employer Mandate, Abortion, And Other Up-In-The-Air Health Bill Issues
As House and Senate lawmakers seek compromise on their health overhaul legislation, much of the focus has been on the issues such as whether a tax on wealthy Americans or high-value insurance plans will finance much of the program or whether the states or federal government would run the insurance marketplaces. But a handful of other issues also continues to draw attention.
NPR: "The newest idea for a way to help pay for the health bill is to extend the Medicare payroll tax to investment income as well, at least for people with high incomes." Marilyn Moon, a Medicare expert at the American Institutes for Research, tells NPR that this change is significant, because it would move away from Medicare's financing system which is based on individuals' contributions as workers (Rovner, 1/13).
Bloomberg/BusinessWeek: "House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel said lawmakers are considering paying for health-care legislation by imposing a new tax on unearned income such as capital gains, a measure aimed at wealthier Americans." He said "the plan to expand the Medicare payroll tax to cover unearned income was preferable to a Senate proposal ... to tax the most-expensive health benefits" (1/12).
The Boston Globe: "Democratic leaders negotiating a compromise health care bill appear likely to reject a House provision requiring employers to offer generous coverage to their workers or else pay a steep payroll tax, specialists say." Senate moderates "who hold the political upper hand" are skeptical of the so-called employer mandate, favored by House Democrats and opposed by business groups (Wangness, 1/13).
The New York Times: House lawmakers are also asking that a provision be included in the final legislation that would ban makers of brand-name drugs from paying off would-be generic competitors to delay their alternative products. The provision, which appears in the House's version of the bill, would save several billion dollars a year, they say (Singer, 1/12).
Roll Call: "When the dust settles on the health care battles over affordability credits, taxes and insurance regulations, Democratic leaders will still face the vexing issue of abortion insurance coverage." A House provision would bar federally subsidized insurance plans from offering abortion coverage. A Senate provision would let states decide whether subsidized plans offered to their residents could cover the procedure (Dennis, 1/13).