The Senate Bill 

Posted: 9:50 pm Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

By Jamie Dupree

As the Senate gets ready to finish work on its version of health care reform, we may as well take some time review what is in this bill, since the debate has unfortunately glossed over much of the fine print in this over 2,000 page measure.

* Like the House bill, the Senate bill requires Americans to buy health insurance
* There is not a specific “employer mandate” in the bill requiring businesses to buy insurance for their workers, but businesses could be hit with a penalty for providing limited health benefits
* Subsidies would be made available to families and individuals to help with the cost of insurance.  Aid would be provided to families making up to $88,000/year and individuals making up to $44,000/year (400% of the poverty level).
* The Senate bill has penalties for those who do not buy insurance, with a phased in cost of $750 per person up to 2% of a person’s income.
* The Senate does not have a public insurance option, but it would allow for national plans that would be managed by the agency that runs the  government’s health care plan for federal workers.
* Like the House bill, this measure would not allow insurance companies to deny coverage because of pre-existing medical conditions
* Limits on the amount of benefits would also be banned

As for how the bill is paid for, I will list the major items, but you can read through the review by the Joint Committee on Taxation, a non-partisan committee in Congress that reviews revenue issues at http://bit.ly/3ItamG .

* $149 billion from a 40% tax on high value health care plans – $8,500 for individual and $23,000 for family, indexed to inflation
* $87 billion by raising the Medicare payroll tax on individuals making more than $200,000/year and couples making more than $250,000/year
* $60 billion by imposing annual fees on health insurance providers

You can look at the rest of the revenue provisions yourself, which would bring in $398.1 billion over ten years.

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