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Health Care mark up continues in House and Senate

July 17, 2009

The pressure surrounding  health care  legislation intensified this week as Committees worked furiously to bring us one step closer to enacting health care reform.  Below are some key accomplishments of the House and the Senate:

1)         The House Education and Labor and House Ways and Means committees have recently finished their respective mark-ups of the America Health Choices Act, readying the bills to be put to the House floor, but waiting for the House Energy and Commerce Committee to finish its mark-up.  Approval of the bill in the House Energy and Commerce Committee (which has jurisdiction over Medicaid) will probably be ready on Monday, July 20th.  However, the most recent Congressional Budget Office’s scoring of the House bill results in increased costs to the federal government.

2)         Key changes and clarifications from the House discussion draft to the unveiled America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 include:

  • Revenue streams from surcharges on wealthy individuals
  • Small employer exemption
  • Individual mandate status, and
  • Reduction in Medicaid payments,

in efforts to bring down the cost of the bill, as well as increase the number of insured Americans.

3) The Senate HELP Committee also recently finished marking of the America Health Choices Act and voted on it.  A summary of which is found here.  On the passage of the bill, Senator Harkin lauded, “This legislation puts prevention and public health at the very heart of comprehensive health reform. It will jumpstart the process of replacing our current sick care system with a genuine health care system.  And it doesn’t just tinker around the edges; it changes the paradigm.”  Some important items include:

  • No denial of health insurance
  • Strengthens prevention standards
  • Less than $615 billion price-tag over the course of ten years, and
  • A public option.

The Senate Finance Committee has yet to bring forth its language, continuing to deliberate in efforts to create a more bipartisan bill.

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