Summary of Senate Health Care Bill

By Mark Stember, JD

Clients and Friends:

As we discussed during our client health and welfare briefing in April, the Senate HELP and Finance Committees had just released an ambitious schedule of moving a health care reform bill to the full senate by the August recess.  Although that time frame still appears to be overly optimistic, health reform became a little clearer yesterday when the Senate HELP Committee released a draft 615-page bill.  The bill is a rough framework that contains an outline of what the bill would look like, and then contains numerous placeholders for various provisions, including a potential tax on employer-provided health benefits and a potential Massachusetts style pay-or-play employer mandate.  The rough draft is as comprehensive as its 615-page length suggests, including insurance market reforms, a public health option, wellness incentives, quality reforms, and incentives for individuals to enter the health care field.  I have attached a Word document that contains a narrative of the draft bill with the various options that the committee is considering.  The actual draft bill can be found at:  http://help.senate.gov/BAI09A84xml.pdf

The next step now is for the Senate HELP committee to markup the bill in the hopes of coming to a final and complete draft that can be voted on by the HELP committee members.  It is unclear whether this would occur either before or after the Senate Finance Committee begins its work on the tax aspects of the bill.  Assuming the HELP Committee completes and approves the bill and the Senate Finance Committee completes and approves the tax provisions, the full Senate can then begin to debate the bill.  Although it is clear that there is much more work to be done and many contentious issues remain, the HELP and Finance Committees are moving forward.  As things develop in Washington, the Kilpatrick Stockton Health and Welfare Team will keep you apprised of the major developments.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

Summary of Bill

eflex note: It appears that FSAs have dodged a bullet at this point in the health care reform change discussion

Mark L. Stember
Kilpatrick Stockton LLP
607 – 14th Street, NW, Suite 900
Washington, DC 20005-2018
202.508.5802 (P)
202.585.0018 (F)
mstember@kilpatrickstockton.com

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