VIA: New York Times
The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi of California, on Thursday unveiled an $894 billion health care package that would provide insurance to up to 36 million people by broadly expanding Medicaid, the state-federal insurance program for the poor, and by offering subsidies to moderate-income Americans to buy insurance either from private carriers or a new government-run plan.
House Democratic leaders, citing cost analysis by the Congressional Budget Office, said the bill would reduce future federal deficits by about $30 billion over the next 10 years, meeting President Obama’s demand that the health legislation not add “one dime” to the nation’s indebtedness.
Ms. Pelosi and House Democratic leaders have been working on the legislation for months, and the 1,990-page measure they rolled out on Thursday is a combination of bills approved by three separate House committees over the summer.
At a rally to unveil the bill, Ms. Pelosi said: “This a historic moment for our nation and families. For nearly a century, leaders of every party and political philosophy have fought for health insurance reform.”
In its size and scope, the House bill is very similar to a measure under development by the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, who is seeking to combine bills passed by two committees.
But there are crucial differences. The House bill, for instance, would impose a new income surtax on individuals earning more than $500,000 and couples earning more than $1 million — a so-called millionaire’s tax.
The Senate bill would impose a tax on high-cost insurance policies, a move that experts say could help lower long-term health care costs by giving employers, employees and private insurers incentive to reduce expenditures.
In addition to expanding coverage for the uninsured, both the House and Senate versions of the legislation would severely tighten restrictions on the health insurance industry, for instance, by barring the denial of coverage based on pre-existing medical conditions.
But while Democrats have insisted that the health care legislation is crucially needed, Congressional Republicans warn that it will raise taxes, unwisely cut Medicare services and increase health care costs overall.
“That’s hardly the reform the American people need or deserve,” House Republicans said in a news release.