By Ric Joyner, CEBS, GBA, CFCI
Inside the beltway information is showing the Democrats are up against the wall with rising unemployment, cap and trade (tax on energy), health care and a deficit that is the biggest in history. Their constituents are speaking up against the “change” agenda that could stop job growth. With that said, the House came out today with their version of Health Care Reform. A synopsis of the bill from Kilpatrick Stockton follows.
Mark Stember, JD
While the Senate committees have been bogged down with discussions over taxing employer provided health coverage, the House Ways and Means Committee has been furiously working on a draft health care bill that uses a different funding source. Today, the House Ways and Means Committee released a draft health care reform bill that is projected to cost approximately $1 Trillion over 10 years. The main funding source for this draft bill is a surtax on high income individuals. The graduated surtax starts at 1% for married couples with incomes over $350,000 and tops out at 5.4% for married couples with incomes greater than $1 Million. The surtax is expected to raise slightly over half of the cost of the legislation.
Other highlights of the draft bill include the following:
- Individuals will be required to purchase health coverage, or pay an income tax penalty.
- Employers will be required to either provide health insurance coverage that meets certain minimum benefit and contribution requirements, or pay a penalty based on 8% of their payroll. The minimum employer contribution would be 72.5% for individual coverage and 65% for family coverage. The minimum benefits include preventive care with no cost sharing, as well as dental and vision coverage for children. Annual out of pocket maximums are also capped.
- The legislation would create a public health insurance option.
- Pre-ex exclusions would be prohibited.
- Changes are made to Medicare and the Medicare Part D benefit is improved.
While the draft bill is comprehensive in both size and scope (dropping in at over 1,000 pages), it is only a starting point. The House Ways and Means Committee has scheduled a mark-up for later this week, and it must be voted on by the entire committee, and then the full House. Afterwards, it would need to be reconciled with whatever bill is voted out of committee and then approved by the full Senate. We are still hearing that the leadership would like to have the full House and Senate have their respective bills done by the August recess. However, even with today’s release, that timeline still appears to be aggressive.
The employee benefits committee of KS has a summary of the bill at this link.