Author Topic: Families will be fined $3800 per year if they don't get health insurance?  (Read 844 times)

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Offline Matthew

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 WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee unveiled a summary of his long-awaited health care reform bill Wednesday, setting the stage for a legislative showdown on President Obama's top domestic priority.
Sen. Max Baucus revealed a health care reform plan that does not include a public option but mandates coverage.

Sen. Max Baucus revealed a health care reform plan that does not include a public option but mandates coverage.

The bill crafted by Sen. Max Baucus, D-Montana, would cost $856 billion over 10 years and mandate insurance coverage for every American.

The bill -- released with no Republican support -- would not add to the federal deficit, Baucus said.

The plan is financed by more than $500 billion in various spending reductions, including Medicare, while calling for almost $350 billion in new taxes and fees.

Insurers would be hit with $6 billion in new fees, with another $4 billion coming from the medical device manufacturing sector. Smaller sums would come from drug makers and clinical laboratories.

The measure drops the public option favored by Obama and many Democratic leaders. As expected, the plan instead calls for the creation of nonprofit health care cooperatives.

As with other reform proposals, the bill would bar insurance companies from dropping a policyholder in the event of illness as long as that person had paid the premium in full. It would add new protections for people with pre-existing conditions and establish tax credits to help low- and middle-income families purchase insurance coverage.

Insurance companies also would be barred from imposing annual caps or lifetime limits on coverage. Individuals, however, would be fined up to $950 annually for failing to obtain coverage; families could be fined as much as $3,800.

Insurers providing expensive "Cadillac" plans would be hit with a tax for 35 percent of the amount that a plan's cost exceeds thresholds set at $8,000 for individuals and $21,000 for families.

The plan also would create health insurance exchanges to make it easier for small groups and individuals to buy insurance.

Baucus' plan also addresses hot button issues including abortion, illegal immigrants and medical malpractice.

According to the summary, the bill would not pre-empt state laws banning or requiring abortion coverage. Federal tax dollars, as under current law, would not be used to pay for abortions unless the pregnancy results from rape or incest or if the life of the mother is in danger.

The measure aims to prevent illegal immigrants from using health care tax credits or accessing insurance exchanges in part by requiring each potential beneficiary to submit a range of personal information that would need to be verified by Social Security Administration data.

In a nod to conservatives, states would be encouraged "to develop and test alternatives to the current civil litigation system" as a way to help reduce skyrocketing malpractice costs, the summary notes.

"The cost of America's broken health care system has stretched families, businesses and the economy too far for too long. For too many, quality, affordable health care is simply out of reach," Baucus said.

The Whιte House called the plan "another boost of momentum for the president's effort to reform the health system."

The Republican Senate leadership ripped the proposal, arguing it would impose unreasonable new tax burdens while cutting vital government programs.

"This partisan proposal cuts Medicare by nearly a half-trillion dollars and puts massive new tax burdens on families and small businesses to create yet another thousand-page, trillion-dollar government program," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky.

"Only in Washington would anyone think that makes sense, especially in this economy."

The Senate Finance Committee is the last of five congressional committees needed to approve health care legislation proposals before the topic can be taken up by both the full Senate and the full House of Representatives.

Rep. George Miller, D-California and a key player in health care negotiations in the House, said Democrats are getting closer to unveiling the final draft of a bill.
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Unlike Baucus' proposal, the House version would include a public option -- a government agency that would provide health insurance alongside private companies.

Miller, who is chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, gave few details and did not indicate a firm timeline for House Democrats to unveil a final draft, but said that discussion is "happening almost everyday now."

Baucus has led months of negotiations with five other committee members -- three Republicans and two Democrats -- on what is considered the only proposal that could win bipartisan support in Congress.

GOP Sens. Olympia Snowe of Maine, Charles Grassley of Iowa and Mike Enzi of Wyoming -- the three Republicans involved in the so-called "Gang of Six" -- still had concerns Tuesday that had not been sufficiently addressed, Snowe, Grassley and other Republican sources indicated.

GOP sources close to the senators stressed that they intend to keep negotiating and plan to offer amendments.

Wednesday morning Baucus said he was optimistic that the bill would ultimately win GOP votes.

"They'll become a little more familiar with it" in the days ahead, he said, and they will have several opportunities to offer amendments during the full committee's consideration of the bill.

In a statement issued Tuesday evening, Grassley said among the outstanding issues to be resolved are the costs to taxpayers, affordability for individuals, preventing taxpayer money from funding abortions, screening out illegal aliens, limiting medical malpractice lawsuits and lowering the overall costs.

Grassley also said he wanted assurances from Democratic leaders in Congress that the bipartisan measure under negotiation would remain unchanged after the Finance Committee passes it.

Meanwhile, Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia said he would oppose the Baucus proposal because it lacks the public option.

"By being against this bill, I am putting down a marker, which I think others should put down, too, who might feel the same way I do," Rockefeller said. He called the Baucus proposal an attempt to gain one or two Republican supporters rather than a bill that would set good policy for the nation.

The public option has been the key sticking point between many Democrats and Republicans.
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Republicans unanimously oppose the public option as an unfair competitor that would drive private insurers out of the market, which they say would bring a government takeover of health care.

Democratic supporters reject that claim, saying a nonprofit public option would be one choice for consumers who also could sign up for private coverage.
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Offline sedetrad

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Families will be fined $3800 per year if they don't get health insurance?
« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2009, 02:03:31 PM »
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