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The House, Senate Health Care Bills in Detail

The House, Senate Health Care Bills in Detail

(Source: AP)

Associated Press | AP Online

November 09, 2009

WASHINGTON – A comparison of the health care bills before Congress.

The Democratic-controlled House passed its legislation on a 220-215 vote Saturday night. Republican opposition was nearly unanimous.

In the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is finalizing legislation merging the work of two committees and making other changes. The Senate Democrats’ bill has not yet been made public, so some specifics are unknown.


The House Bill (Affordable Health Care for America Act):

WHO’S COVERED: About 96 percent of legal residents under age 65 – compared with 83 percent now. About one-third of the remaining 18 million people under age 65 left uninsured would be illegal immigrants.

COST: The Congressional Budget Office says the bill’s cost of expanding insurance coverage over 10 years is $1.055 trillion. The net cost is $894 billion, factoring in penalties on individuals and employers who don’t comply with new requirements. That’s under President Barack Obama’s $900 billion goal. However, those figures leave out a variety of new costs in the bill, including increased prescription drug coverage for seniors under Medicare, so the measure may be around $1.2 trillion.

HOW IT’S PAID FOR: $460 billion over the next decade from new income taxes on single people making more than $500,000 a year and couples making more than $1 million. The original House bill taxed individuals making $280,000 a year and couples making more than $350,000, but the threshold was increased in response to lawmakers’ concerns that the taxes would hit too many people and small businesses.

There are also more than $400 billion in cuts to Medicare and Medicaid; a new $20 billion fee on medical device makers; $13 billion from limiting contributions to flexible spending accounts; sizable penalties paid by individuals and employers who don’t obtain coverage; and a mix of other corporate taxes and fees.

REQUIREMENTS FOR INDIVIDUALS: Individuals must have insurance, enforced through a tax penalty of 2.5 percent of income. People can apply for hardship waivers if coverage is unaffordable.

REQUIREMENTS FOR EMPLOYERS: Employers must provide insurance to their employees or pay a penalty of 8 percent of payroll. Companies with payrolls under $500,000 annually are exempt – a change from the original $250,000 level to accommodate concerns of moderate Democrats – and the penalty is phased in for companies with payrolls between $500,000 and $750,000.

Small businesses – those with 10 or fewer workers – get tax credits to help them provide coverage.

SUBSIDIES: Individuals and families with annual income up to 400 percent of poverty level, or $88,000 for a family of four, would get sliding-scale subsidies to help them buy coverage. The subsidies would begin in 2013.


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