Health system reform remains a high priority in our nation's capitol as Congress continues to debate the several elements of a health system reform bill. On June 11, Democratic leaders in the House and Senate released draft versions of health system reform legislation that outline several proposals, including a public option that has been at the center of debate between Democrats who support a public option and Republicans and moderate Democrats who oppose the provision.
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee released a 615-page draft health care bill that would expand eligibility for Medicaid and allow families with incomes up to 500% of the federal poverty level to qualify for subsidies to purchase insurance. The bill also includes: an individual mandate requiring US residents to purchase insurance, reforms for the insurance market, suspension of coverage denials based on pre-existing conditions, and the establishment of a health insurance exchange where US residents can compare and buy coverage. The bill also includes a public option for coverage.
In the House, the Education and Labor Committee Chair George Miller, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Henry Waxman, and House Ways and Means Committee Chair Charles Rangel released an 850-page draft of health reform legislation. The legislation would provide coverage for 95% of U.S. residents. The draft did not include details on how much it would cost or how it would be funded. The proposal includes a public plan option and a mandate that employers either offer health benefits for workers or pay into a health exchange system.
As Congress continues the debate on health system reform, it is very likely that many of the provisions included the draft bills will be extensively amended or eliminated as this process progresses. The legislative process is a very fluid one in which prognostications, legislative language, and a politician's position can and will change based on the time of day. As this important debate moves forward, we will continue to send members updates on the latest developments.