Boiling down legislative babble was an exhausting exercise, but it was a great opportunity to put together my own "cheat sheet" on health care -- here goes!
I will use the House plan as the jumping off point and note differences with the Senate's version.
- Costs $1.04 trillion over 10 years (Congressional Budget Office) [Senate plan would cost more]
- Covers 97% of legal American citizens
- Mandates all individuals to purchase insurance or pay penalty of about 2.5% of gross income
- Establishes insurance exchange where consumers can compare policies and buy coverage
- Includes Public Options to compete with private insurance
- Individual subsidies: The government will offer assistance (credits) on a sliding scale up to four times the poverty level (up to $43K for individual and $88K for a family of 4)
- Requires employers to provide health coverage or pay a fee to the government [Senate plan is $750/employee for employers with > 25 employees]
- Payroll > $400,000 = 8% of Wages
- Payroll $250,000-$400,000 = to be determined (smaller penalty)
- Payroll < $250,000 = NO FEE
- Bars insurance companies from denying coverage due to illness or health status
- Eliminates insurance company lifetime caps
Where's this money coming from?
Under the House plan, there are three main sources available to fund health care [The Senate plan seemed to pass over this not-so-small detail]:
1) New Taxes on Wealthy Generating $544 Billion
- 5.4% surtax income > $1M
- 1.5% surtax on income $500,000 - $1M
- 1% surtax on income $350,000 - $500,000 (starts at $280,000 for individuals)
3) Reduction in spending for Medicare and Medicaid
- New taxes on rich
- Impact on small businesses
- Change in care--Americans will wonder whether their doctors will participate in public option
Now the fun begins. The Senate Health and Finance Committees must agree to a unified version of the bill. Then, the House and the Senate start to wrangle over a compromise. Once that's done, the bill goes to the President for signing.