White House Health Care Reform Proposal Draws Lukewarm Response
President Obama's proposal for health reform legislation, which was released online on Monday, faced a tepid reception from congressional lawmakers, who noted that the plan included few definitive details on its cost and coverage figures, CongressDaily reports (Edney, CongressDaily, 2/23).
According to White House projections, the proposal would extend health coverage to 31 million uninsured U.S. residents at a cost of $950 billion over 10 years.
The White House says the proposal would cost $75 billion more than the Senate's reform bill (HR 3590), which it was based on, but less than the $1.05 trillion House version (HR 3962) (Stolberg/Herszenhorn, New York Times, 2/23).
Although its cost exceeds Obama's own target of $900 billion, White House Office of Health Reform Director Nancy-Ann DeParle said the proposal would lower the federal budget deficit by about $100 billion in the first 10 years and by about $1 trillion over the 10-year period after that.
The proposal makes changes to proposals in the Senate bill, such as:
- Raising the Medicare payroll tax for individuals with high annual incomes from 1.45% to 3.8%;
- Expanding the current 2.9% Medicare payroll tax to unearned income; and
- Increasing proposed fees on brand-name pharmaceutical companies by $10 billion over 10 years (Wayne, CQ Today, 2/22).
Obama's Summit To Proceed Without CBO Score
In a post published on his blog on Monday afternoon, Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf wrote that CBO would need more details than the proposal provides for a complete analysis (New York Times, 2/23).He added that "even if such detail were provided, analyzing the proposal would be a time-consuming process that could not be completed this week," before the scheduled televised health reform summit on Thursday (CongressDaily, 2/23). 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.