House Democrats Unveil Health Care Plan

House Democrats are pushing this summer to pass sweeping health care reforms. And President Barack Obama said yesterday that he'd like to see a bill come out of committee as early as this week.

Right now, healthcare costs in this country run about $2.5 trillion a year, or nearly 18 percent of the national economy. With those costs rising, the Democrats' plan calls for extending coverage. So who gets the doctor's bill. CBS News White House correspondent Chip Reid reports.

In Michigan today the president was fired up over health reform, telling a cheering crowd, "We have no choice but to change the healthcare system, because right now it's broken for too many Americans."

In Washington, House democrats responded with a 1,000-page bill to overhaul American health care. Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., called "landmark legislation" and "a defining moment for our nation."

Major provisions include:

  • Federal subsidies for low-income Americans to help them buy health insurance;
  • Penalties for large companies that refuse to provide insurance;
  • Penalties for individuals who refuse to buy it; and
  • A government health insurance plan to compete with private ones

    Republicans condemned the bill. House leader John Boehner called it criminal malpractice.

    "This so-called public option is going to force millions of Americans out of their private health insurance into a government-run plan," he said.

    The bill seeks to ensure coverage of 97 percent of Americans. Experts say it will cost at least $1 trillion over 10 years.

    It would be paid for through cost savings, including long-term cuts in Medicare and a new tax on those earning more than $350,000 a year.

    Passing the bill won't be easy, because about 40 conservative democrats - enough to kill the bill - say they'll oppose it unless the cost is brought down dramatically

    "I wouldn't say the health care bill is in jeopardy at this point but it's a long way from passing the House," said Rep. Mike Ross, D-Ark.

    Mr. Obama praised the House action today without specifically endorsing every aspect of the Democratic plan. He said he'd like to see bills from both houses of Congress before the August recess. But it's unclear if he's going to get his wish.

    • Chip Reid

      Chip Reid is CBS News' national correspondent.