White House Releases Reform Plan Ahead of Health Summit
The proposal rejects the repeated calls from Republicans to scrap the House and Senate bills (HR 3962, HR 3590), opting instead to merge the Senate measure with the House package in a manner that addresses some of the most controversial provisions of the stalled legislation (Shear/Balz, Washington Post, 2/22).
The proposal would cost $950 billion over 10 years, which is about $75 billion more than the cost of the Senate bill but less than the more than $1 trillion cost of the House bill (Meckler, Wall Street Journal, 2/22).
White House Office of Health Reform Director Nancy-Ann DeParle noted that all the changes in the proposal were fully offset.
Highlights of the White House Proposal
- Does not include a public option;
- Would delay until 2018 an excise tax on high-cost insurance policies and raise the threshold for the tax for families from $24,500 to $27,500;
- Would provide more tax subsidies for low- and moderate-income U.S. residents to help them purchase insurance, while enacting larger penalties on employers that fail to provide health benefits;
- Would implement new, stricter measures to address waste, fraud and abuse in Medicare;
- Would delay the implementation of taxes on various health care industry players and change fees on medical device manufacturers to an excise tax;
- Eliminates the so-called "Cornhusker Kickback" in the Senate bill, which would have covered the full cost of a Medicaid expansion in Nebraska;
- Fully close the "doughnut hole" for the Medicare prescription drug benefit by 2020 -- the Senate bill would have narrowed it only by 50% (Budoff Brown, Politico, 2/22); and
- Retains the language in the Senate bill that would limit federal funding for the coverage of abortion services, which is less restrictive than a similar provision in the House bill (Washington Post, 2/22).
White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer noted that the proposal was written by the White House and that leaders from the House and Senate have not approved it.
According to Politico, White House officials confirmed that the proposal is designed to be approved through the budget reconciliation process, which would enable Senate Democrats to pass the measure with a simple majority (Politico, 2/22).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.