5150235House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other leaders from the House of Representatives on Tuesday unveiled the House version of health care reform legislation.
The measure, among other things, would impose a new income tax on the wealthiest Americans and mandate all Americans get health insurance. Pelosi and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), who is responsible for health care reform in the House Energy and Commerce Committee, stood under a banner today that read "Quality affordable health care for the middle class," while promising the bill would pass before Congress breaks for its August recess, the Associated Press reported.
The House Ways and Means Committee, one of three committees that will review the bill, is expected to vote on it as early as this week. The swift movement on the legislation, however, does not mean the debate over reform is over. The House bill embraces some of the most controversial reform proposals on the table.
The legislation comes at a price of $1 trillion over 10 years, the New York Times reported
, which legislators aim to pay for in part by raising taxes by 5.4 percent on taxpayers making more than $1 million a year. The plan would also seek out revenues from anticipated cuts in Medicare and Medicaid spending.
The bill would create a government-run health insurance option, or "public plan," a key part of reform for most liberals. It would also prohibit insurers from raising rates or denying coverage to people because of pre-existing conditions.
It also includes a mandate for both individuals and businesses. If individuals do not acquire health insurance, they would face a penalty of 2.5 percent of their income, the AP reported, though the penalty would not exceed the average cost of health insurance. Meanwhile, employers would have to offer workers insurance or pay a fee of 8 percent of a worker's wages. Small businesses would be exempt.
The bill comes one day after President Obama met with Democratic leaders
in charge of the reform efforts to urge them to pass legislation in both the House and the Senate before the August recess. Leaders at the meeting discussed the House income tax proposal -- which the Senate is unlikely to consider, Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said, according to
the New York Times.
Mr. Obama in a statement today praised the House for its "unprecedented cooperation to produce a health care reform proposal that will lower costs, provide better care for patients and ensure fair treatment of consumers by the insurance industry."
"I look forward to continuing to work with all House members in ensuring this legislation helps all Americans and plays an essential role in reducing deficits and bringing fiscal sustainability to our nation," Mr. Obama said.