House Stimulus Bill Lacks Health Insurance Provisions
The House yesterday on a 216-214 vote "split mostly along party lines" approved a $100 billion, GOP-sponsored economic stimulus bill (HR 3090) and defeated rival legislation proposed by Democrats that included health insurance subsidies for unemployed workers, the Washington Post reports (Eilperin, Washington Post, 10/25). The Republican bill, which includes a number of permanent tax cuts, would cost about $99.5 billion in 2002 and more than $159 billion over 10 years (Anderson, AP/Nando Times, 10/24). Democrats criticized the legislation as a "payoff to powerful" business interests that would "do little to shore up the economy" (Hook/Anderson, Los Angeles Times, 10/25). House Democrats had proposed a bill, defeated on a 261-166 vote, that would have extended unemployment benefits for workers and offered a 75% subsidy to purchase health insurance through the COBRA program (Neikirk, Chicago Tribune, 10/25). COBRA, the 1986 Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, allows unemployed workers to retain health coverage under their former employers' insurance plans by paying 102% of the premiums (California Healthline, 9/27). The Bush administration has "expressed support" for the House GOP-sponsored bill (Washington Post, 10/25).
Senate Democrats "strongly object" to the economic stimulus bill passed in the House and have proposed a number of rival plans (Murray, Wall Street Journal, 10/25). Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) has proposed a $70 billion plan that would extend unemployment benefits for workers, establish a 50% subsidy to help unemployed workers purchase health insurance through the COBRA program and allow more unemployed workers to qualify for Medicaid (AP/Nando Times, 10/25). Sens. John Breaux (D-La.) and James Jeffords (I-Vt.) have proposed a two-year, $9.4 billion plan that would provide tax credits to help unemployed workers purchase health insurance through their former employers (Wall Street Journal, 10/25).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.