House Republicans Set To Release Proposal for Health Care Overhaul
On Thursday, House Republicans plan to release their own $700 billion health reform bill that aims to expand health coverage through tax incentives and limit medical malpractice lawsuits, CQ Today reports (Wayne, CQ Today, 7/29).
The bill, drafted by Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), is intended to be an alternative to House Democrats' legislation (HR 3200) and does not include an individual or employer mandate nor any kind of public health insurance program.
Rather, the bill would permit individuals to purchase health insurance online from any company in the country.
According to Republican Study Committee spokesperson Brendan Buck, House Republicans "are introducing this bill because we support health care reform, but in a way that empowers patients" (Alonso-Zaldivar, AP/Boston Globe, 7/29).
The bill would:
- Apply tax breaks that workers with employer-sponsored insurance receive to those in the individual insurance market;
- Give small businesses tax incentives for automatically enrolling employees in health care plans;
- Allot tax credits of up to $2,000 for individuals or $5,000 for families with annual incomes lower than 300% of the federal poverty level to pay for private coverage;
- Permit employers to have the option of giving money directly to employees to purchase insurance;
- Prohibit insurers from denying individuals coverage based on pre-existing conditions;
- Make states eligible for grants to set up "high-risk pools" for people who are denied private insurance (CQ Today, 7/29);
- Prevent the government from enacting recommendations from the Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research before medical societies approve the suggestions;
- Limit jury awards for medical malpractice lawsuits; and
- Create new health courts with judges specially trained in hearing and deciding cases related to medical negligence (AP/Boston Globe, 7/29).
According to an RSC spokesperson, the bill would cost $700 billion over 10 years and would be "fully paid for." In addition to the savings from limiting malpractice lawsuits, Republicans intend to pay for their plan by cutting government payments to hospitals that see a lot of uninsured patients by $20 billion a year; increasing efforts to decrease waste, fraud and abuse in government-sponsored programs; and making a 1% annual across-the-board cut in nondefense discretionary spending (CQ Today, 7/29).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.