The wait is over: the Senate Finance Committee's formal health care bill has finally arrived! Chairman Max Baucus unveiled the Senate version, "America's Healthy Future Act of 2009," which sounds eerily like a breakfast cereal. The 10-year $856 billion Senate plan is a $44 billion savings from the number President Obama quoted last week in his prime time health reform speech.
Here's my first impression of what you need to know about the new bill:
What's in: extend health insurance to tens of millions of Americans not now covered; creation of a network of nonprofit health insurance cooperatives; limits on nasty insurance company practices.
What's out: the public option
What's changed: employers with more than 50 full-time workers would pay a $400 fee for each employee if they don't offer health insurance. The fee would be triggered if any employees apply for federal tax credits to buy coverage. This is a significant reduction from the House bill that would penalize companies up to 8% of payroll if they didn't offer insurance.