Healthcare reform inched closer to reality when the Senate Finance Committee approved its version of the bill. Here’s what they OK’d and what to expect next.
Sure, there’s a lot more haggling to be done (more on that later), but the we’re starting to get a clearer picture of what final legislation will look like.
Who’s covered: An estimated 94 percent of Americans. Illegal immigrants would not receive government benefits.
Cost: $829 billion over 10 years.
How it would be funded:
- A fee on employers whose workers receive government subsidies to help them pay premiums.
- Fees on insurance companies, drugmakers, medical-device manufacturers.
- A tax on insurance companies amounting to 40% of total premiums paid on plans costing more than $8,000 annually for individuals and $21,000 for families.
- Cuts in Medicare and Medicaid.
- Fines on people who don’t purchase coverage.
Requirements and costs for individuals: Except for a few hardship exemptions, everyone would have to get coverage through an employer, individually or some type of subsidized plan. Individuals and families would pay no more than 8% of their income in premiums.
Mandates on the insurance industry:
- No denials or higher premiums based on preexisting conditions or gender, but some increases in premiums will be allowed based on age and family size.
- Limits on allowable copays and deductibles.
The Senate plan drops the so-called public option — the government-run alternative to private insurance.
The chronology of where it’s headed
- Members of the Finance Committee will meet with the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which also presented a bill earlier. The two sides will hash out a compromise.
- A floor debate will take place in the Senate probably the week of Oct. 26, when amendments will be proposed.
- The Congressional Budget Office will report on the finance effects of the bill.
- If the bill passes in the full Senate, there will be a conference committee with members of the House, who have their own bill and likely will seek a compromise.
- The Senate and House would then vote on the final bill and send it to the White House.
- Expected deadline: Congressional leaders say Thanksgiving — meaning probably early December.