Last Finance Hurdle: How To Pay For Overhaul
A final hurdle, how to pay for the health overhaul bill, remains, Bloomberg reports. The remaining items for the Senate Finance Committee are whether "to increase taxes on the most-expensive insurance plans, impose new fees on health-related industries, and limit the tax benefits of flexible savings accounts" (Donmoyer and Rowley, 10/1).
The New York Times on Baucus continuing to consider affordability changes: "In a push to lock down votes, Senator Max Baucus, the Montana Democrat and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, is pulling together a last-minute package of changes to his health care legislation aimed at addressing the chief concern among his fellow Democrats: that health insurance be made as affordable as possible for moderate-income Americans." The changes include Cantwell's plan, a proposal by Snowe to phase in the penalty for not obtaining coverage and allowing exemptions for the penalty if it would be more than 7 percent of income instead of the bill's mark of 10 percent (Herszenhorn, 9/30).
In the meantime, Baucus and other Democrats are seeking "to shield even more retirees and union workers from a tax on the most expensive health-care plans," Bloomberg reports separately. Baucus's original proposal included a 35 percent tax on plans worth more than $8,000 for individuals and $21,000 for families. He's suggested increasing both the percentage tax and the threshold in hopes of protecting some lower-income workers and retirees. Sens. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and John Kerry, D-Mass., has said his plans would hurt too many "ordinary people" and "high-risk" workers, such as coal miners (Gaouette and Donmoyer, 9/30).