Posts Tagged ‘Maria Cantwell’
Oct 9th, 2009 | by
Senate Finance Committee Completes Mark-up; Expected to Vote Out of Committee on Oct. 13
The Senate Finance Committee completed debate on proposed health care legislation at 2:18 am last Friday. The Finance Committee was the last congressional panel to consider a health care reform bill and plans to vote this week after the bill’s final language has been made public and the Congressional Budget Office has provided final cost figures. Democrats hold a 13-10 committee majority which clears the way for the full Senate to begin debating the measure on October 13, 2009.
The panel considered many amendments over a two-week period and voted to reduce or waive fines for people who fail to buy coverage and give states money to help insure low-income Americans.
The legislation, estimated to cost $900 billion over 10 years, mandates that Americans get insurance and provides subsidies to those who need them, creates nonprofit cooperatives to offer an alternative to private insurance companies, and prohibits insurers from denying coverage to people with pre-existing medical conditions.
Instead of approving a public option amendment, the finance panel voted 12-11 for a compromise plan offered by Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., that would give federal funds to states to negotiate with private managed care plans to buy coverage for people who would not qualify for the Medicaid program. This compromise option would be eligible to people with income between 133-200% FPL. For individuals, that means income between $14,403 annually and $21,660. For families of four, the eligibility would be $29,326 to $44,100.
Individual mandate – Lowering the Penalty & Allowing Exemptions Dismays Insurers
An amendment proposed by Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) was also approved that reduce the penalty for those who fail to comply with an individual insurance mandate to $750 per adult, from $1,900 per family as originally proposed. It also waives the penalties in 2013 and phases them in through 2017. In addition, people who would have to pay more than eight percent of their income to buy insurance would be exempt from the penalties, down from 10 percent.
This amendment is of significant concern to commercial insurers as it could allow 2 million Americans to remain uninsured without contributing to the insurance pool.
Insurers are outraged by the risk involved as they would be required to guarantee coverage for all Americans should the health reform measure pass. A strong individual mandate made this option feasible.
Other notable items:
- By a vote of 13 to 9, the committee approved an amendment by Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) that would keep low-income children in the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), instead of covering them through the Exchanges. This was a key interest for CareSource as we hope to continue to provide coverage to children who qualify through CHIP in Ohio and Michigan.
- Physician groups were upset to find out that the hospital industry is exempt from a crucial cost-cutting measure related to Medicare payments included in Senate Finance Chairman’s mark. Hospitals were held exempt because they were able to negotiate a $155 billion cost-cutting agreement with Baucus and the White House.
The bill that emerges from Baucus’s panel must be merged with one that passed the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee for debate and vote by the full Senate and eventually reconciled with a House measure.
Across the Capitol, Democratic leaders in the House met privately with moderate members, with liberals, and then with first-termers as they struggled to achieve a consensus on legislation to bring to the floor. Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announced it would probably be at least two more weeks before House legislation was ready.