Finance Committee Continues Work On Health Overhaul, Benefits Tax Advances In Negotiations
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee continued its mark up of health care reform legislation while the Senate Finance Committee "was hunkered down in negotiations on its version, with Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) shuttling between closed-door meetings to try to reach a consensus," Roll Call reports. Key Finance Committee members, Democrats and Republicans, seemed optimistic about a "bipartisan outcome," even as Republican members of the HELP Committee "complain that their markup has devolved into a partisan exercise."
"Senators want to get to 'yes,'" Baucus said, upon exiting a private bipartisan meeting of Finance members, Roll Call reports. But differences continue regarding the government-run insurance option, the role of employers in health care reform and how to pay for the overhaul (Drucker, 6/24).
Associated Press: "Taxing workers for employer-provided medical benefits could become the next big controversy for President Barack Obama in his quest to overhaul the nation's health care system. ... Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., told reporters, 'it's hard to see how you have a package paid for' that doesn't include a benefits tax. Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., said 'there's a lot of merit' to Conrad's point. Baucus said that discussion on the benefits tax is starting to come together. The idea would be to tax as income the portion of health benefits worth more than a specified limit. Senators are considering several options, including one that would set the limit at $17,240 for family coverage, and $6,800 for individuals. Plans worth more than that would be taxed" (Werner, 6/24).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.