Senate Finance Committee Rejects GOP Efforts To Gut Various Taxes And Fees From Bill
During today's mark-up proceedings, Senate Finance Committee Democrats rejected GOP amendments to strip certain fees and taxes included in the draft health reform measure.
The Associated Press: "Democrats turned back GOP efforts to cast the health care overhaul as a tax hike on the middle class...." Republicans argued "taxes the bill proposes on people who don't comply with a mandate to buy health insurance would break Obama's promise to shield families making under $250,000 a year from tax hikes. The fees could rise as high as $1,900 for households that don't buy coverage. Democrats replied that the bill actually amounted to a $40 billion tax cut for Americans over 10 years since it provides for credits to help lower income people buy coverage" (Werner, 10/1).
Washington Post: "Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee narrowly defeated amendments by GOP senators Mike Crapo of Idaho and John Ensign of Nevada, 11 to 12. But the measures attracted the votes of two moderates, Sen. Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) and Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), suggesting that the issue could prove problematic as the health-care debate moves to the House and Senate floors in the weeks to come."
"Calling his amendment an effort to make sure that health-care reform lives up to Obama's promises, Crapo proposed to strip out all taxes and fees that would strike individuals who earn less than $200,000 a year and families who earn less than $250,000 a year. Among the key provisions that would be affected, he said, are a proposed penalty of up to $1,900 a year for failing to buy insurance; a plan to make it much harder to deduct catastrophic medical expenses; and new penalties on those who use their health savings accounts for other purposes. Ensign's amendment targeted only the penalty for failing to buy insurance."
"Baucus blasted the proposals as 'killer' amendments. Of Crapo's offering, Baucus said, 'This is an amendment that guts, kills health reform. . . . The effect is to say we're not going to have universal coverage'" (Montgomery/Connolly, 10/1).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.