7 Things to Watch in the House Health Care Bill
It's being unveiled today. Here's what to expect.
House Democrats unveil their health care bill today. In a key compromise hammered out between conservative and liberal Democrats, the legislation includes a public plan but does not allow the government to set prices. Here's what pundits are looking out for:
1. Too Much Compromise The Nation's John Nichols calls the House plan the "not-so-robust public option." He says that for progressives who wanted a single-payer system, the public option was already a compromise. "The 'public option' Pelosi and her team will not make payments based on Medicare rates. It will, instead, be forced to negotiate rates with doctors and hospitals, as private insurers do. That weakens the flexibility and muscle of the public option."
2. Not Enough Price Control At The Los Angeles Times, Noam N. Levey and Janet Hook say the best way to keep costs down may have been lost in the negotiations. "According to senior lawmakers and aides, the so-called public option in the new compromise would not dictate what the plan can pay hospitals, doctors and other providers. Instead, the federal government would have to negotiate rates with providers, much as private insurers do."
3. Democrats Cut Medicare to Keep Bill "Cost Neutral" At The Weekly Standard, Bill Kristol says Pelosi is "asking her members to walk the plank" and cut funds from Medicare to pay for their health care bill. "Is the Democratic Party as a whole willing to go into the 2010 election as the party that slashed Medicare? Are individual Democratic members?"
4. Big Pharma Takes a Hit The Politico's Chris Frates has the rundown. And while he says the bill is "not going to make docs happy," he says it's drug makers who are being targeted.
Drug makers are also getting shellacked. They’re looking at between $125 billion and $150 billion in cuts – almost twice the $80 billion they agreed to under the White House deal. PhRMA will pay to close the donut hole completely by 2019, dual-eligible and low-income seniors will get drug rebates under Medicare and HHS will gain authority to negotiate Medicare drug prices. To underscore her enthusiasm for dinging the drug industry with the HHS provision, House Speaker Pelosi said during a leadership meeting last night, “I've been smearing poo-poo on it for months.”
5. Employer and Individual Mandates ABC's George Stephanopoulos says the bill requires employers and individuals to buy insurance. "Companies who don't offer health insurance will be slapped with an 8 percent fine," Stephanopoulos writes. This doesn't apply to small businesses, however.
6. The Millionaire's Tax Robert Pear of The New York Times says the House bill includes taxes on the very wealthy. "The new bill, like an earlier version, retains a surtax on high-income people, but increases the thresholds. The tax would hit married couples with adjusted gross incomes exceeding $1 million a year and individuals over $500,000 — just three-tenths of 1 percent of all households, Democrats said."
7. Unresolved Questions on Abortion and Immigration Shailagh Murray of The Washington Post says major "sticking points in the legislation involving abortion and immigration remain unresolved."