Senate Finance Committee Releases New Health Care Reform Proposal
September 16, 2009 [Washington, DC] -- Senator Max Baucus, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, released another version of healthcare reform today - a $856 billion package that will be offset by $350 billion in new excise taxes and fees, and $507 billion in cuts in government health services.
Weeks of bipartisan negotiations among key Finance committee members (called the Gang of Six) were expected to yield a more moderate version of healthcare reform than any of the proposals unveiled to date and bridge the gap between Democrats and Republicans.
However, today's product failed to gain enthusiastic support from either party, with some Democrats citing the lack of a government sponsored insurance plan, and Republicans the new taxes and fees.
Among the provisions in the draft released today, the Senate Finance Committee plan would:
- Make health insurance mandatory for nearly everyone
- Prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions
- Lifetime limits on coverage would be lifted and barred
- Allow insurance companies to charge higher premiums for the elderly (by a factor of up to 5 to one) and for those who smoke (by a factor of up to 1.5 to 1).
- Allowable premiums would fall into four benefit categories: bronze, silver, gold and platinum, with out of pocket limits starting at $5,950 for individuals and $11,900 for families in the lowest category.
- Allow for insurance exchanges so people could comparison shop
- Give low income people tax credits or subsidies to help cover the premiums
- Would Medicaid overage would be expanded
- Medicare cost and fraud controls would be instituted
- The "donut hole" in Medicare drug overage would be eliminated
To cover the cost, estimated to be $856 billion over the next 10 years, the plan calls for:
- A 35% excise tax on insurance plans whose value is in excess of $8,000 for an individual and $21,000 for a family effective
- New fees totaling $40.5 on insurance companies; $17.2 billion on drug manufacturers; $29.9 billion on medical device manufacturers and $5.6 billion on clinical laboratories
- $500 billion in Medicare savings and elimination of fraud and abuse
This listing is not complete and all provisions of the draft are open to amendment when the Senate Finance Committee starts working on the bill next week.
Lung Cancer Alliance will continue to provide updates as they become available during this process
The complete 223 page summary of the Senate Finance Committee draft can be viewed here.