House Committees Gear Up To Release Health Care Reform Proposal
House Democrats on Friday are scheduled to release health care reform legislation that includes an individual mandate and subsidies to help people purchase coverage, CQ Today reports. The measure was drafted by the House Education and Labor, Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means committees.
The subsidies -- expected to be the most expensive portion of the bill -- would be offered on a sliding scale and likely through an exchange in which private insurers and government plans would compete.
The measure also likely will include strict new regulations on private insurers similar to those in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee bill (Armstrong/Wayne, CQ Today, 6/18).
The measure would require businesses to provide employees with health coverage, with an exemption for small employers (Werner, AP/Minneapolis Star Tribune, 6/19).
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) said, "We're going to have shared responsibility," adding, "People are going to have to be part of the system."
In addition, the measure might include a provision ordering FDA to approve so-called follow-on biologics, or generic versions of biotechnology drugs.
The bill does not include any possible funding mechanisms (CQ Today, 6/18).
The House Ways and Means Committee privately circulated a list of possible tax increases that would help pay for the bill. Such items included:
- Raising the Medicare payroll tax;
- A new 10% tax on sugary drinks;
- Raising the alcohol tax;
- Taxing employers at the equivalent of 3% of employee health benefits above specific levels; and
- Adopting a value-added tax of up to 1.5% (Espo/Werner, AP/Detroit Free Press, 6/18).
Waxman said that House leaders as soon as Friday would release the Congressional Budget Office's score of the measure, which is expected to cost more than $1 trillion.
TimelineThe three House committees that drafted the measure next week will begin hearings on the measure, followed by a markup and floor debate after the July 4 recess (CQ Today, 6/18). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.