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House leaders release text of reconciliation bill

WASHINGTON — House leaders have posted the text of the health-care reconciliation bill online. Below are links to key things you might be interested in.

Reconciliation text.

Summary of changes.

Impacts on/before Jan 2011.

Full score on the reconciliation text from the Congressional Budget Office.

CBO director’s blog on health care scoring.

Per a pledge to have the bill available for viewing for 72 hours, the earliest the vote could take place is Sunday afternoon. Steny Hoyer, the number two Democrat in the House, said today the vote would be Sunday.

President Obama has postponed his Indonesia/Australia trip until June in order to whip votes up to the last minute and sign any legislation that may emerge. In a statement, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the president “greatly regrets” delaying the trip, but added “passage of health insurance reform is of paramount importance, and the president is determined to see this battle through.”

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Comments (2)

  1. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 03/19/2010 - 02:02 pm.

    I have fallen into the donut hole by September the last two or three years. In 2009, by having to pay close to $500 per month for meds (while continuing to pay the insurance premium), my year-end total for out-of-pocket costs was not quite $1,800. My drug insurer’s costs for the entire year was a little over $1,800. Almost a 50-50 split.

    A payment of $250 from the government is a lot less help for any senior — donut-hole-faller-into or not — than would negotiating volume drug prices with the manufacturers. The VA negotiates a discount of about 45-47 percent off retail. Medicare is required by law to pay retail.

    The 2003 drug benefit was, surprise, written in large part by the drug and insurance companies and created as a privatized system rather than a simple Medicare benefit. That’s why it costs so very, very much in both taxpayer and senior dollars and is so very, very profitable for the companies.

  2. Submitted by James Hamilton on 03/19/2010 - 05:11 pm.

    It would be nice (but unrealistic, I know) if we could expect Congress to provide an objective summary of changes rather than the political blurb to which this article provides a link.

    A prime example is this bit of wind:

    “Makes the Medicare payroll tax more fair for those in the middle class, by broadening the base of the tax to apply to the capital gains, dividends, interest, and other unearned income of people with incomes above $250,000 ($200,000 for single filers).”

    So, the House would broaden the “payroll” tax non-payroll income, but only for those with incomes above $200/250k. This has nothing to do with being “more fair” to the middle class. Rather, it seems to be the beginning of progressive taxation for entitlements. What’s next, means-testing Medicare eligibility?

    And this:

    “In recognition of the fact that as more Americans gain health insurance, more will be able to pay for prescription drugs, increases the fee on pharmaceutical companies that manufacture or import brand‐name drugs by $10 billion – increasing receipts from $23 billion in the Senate bill to $33 billion.”

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but won’t increased sales of drugs result in more profits and, presumably, increased tax revenue? Won’t we (the consumers of the drugs) ultimately pay for this increased “fee”?

    I could go on, but much of the bill seems to consist of shifting financial burdens under the Senate bill from one group to another and delaying other economic impacts for years.

    With so many legitimate items to discuss, I can’t imagine why so many focus on absurdities such as “death panels” and the lack of constitutional authority to require individuals to purchase health insurance. (If the phrase “raise and support armies” is sufficient authorization for the draft, then the “necessary and proper” language of the Commerce Clause is adequate for this, IMO.)

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