Democratic leaders in the Senate on Wednesday unveiled their proposal for overhauling the health care system, outlining legislation that they said would cover most of the uninsured while reducing the federal budget deficit.
Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, said at an evening news conference that the legislation, embodying President Obama’s signature domestic initiative, would impose new regulations on insurers, extend coverage to 31 million people who currently do not have any and add new benefits to Medicare.
Mr. Reid said the bill, despite a price tag of $848 billion over 10 years, would reduce projected budget deficits by $130 billion over a decade because the costs would be more than offset by new taxes and fees and by reductions in the growth of Medicare.
Democrats expressed confidence that they would have the votes needed to move forward when the legislation hits its first test in the Senate, probably later this week. To get past that first procedural hurdle, Mr. Reid will need the votes of all 58 Democratic senators and the two independents aligned with them.
That vote would clear the way for what is sure to be an unpredictable roller-coaster ride of a debate on the Senate floor through much of December. Earlier this month the House passed its version of the health care legislation.
Republicans have vowed to fight the legislation at every turn, saying it represents a dangerous expansion in the role of government that would increase taxes and insurance costs for millions of people. “It’s going to be a holy war,” said Senator Orrin G. Hatch, Republican of Utah.
Under Mr. Reid’s bill, the government would establish a new public insurance plan, which would compete with private insurers. States could opt out of the public plan by passing legislation. ...
Mr. Reid’s bill would also raise revenue by levying annual fees on health insurance companies and pharmaceutical manufacturers. The Finance Committee would have imposed fees of $4 billion a year on manufacturers of medical devices, but Mr. Reid decided to cut those fees by half.
Under the bill, most people would be required to carry insurance. A person without insurance could be required to pay a financial penalty, starting at $95 in 2014 and rising to $750 in 2016, with a maximum of $2,250 for a family.
The Senate bill would not explicitly require employers to offer health insurance coverage. But if an employer with more than 50 employees does not offer coverage and if any worker qualifies for a federal subsidy, the employer would have to pay a penalty, typically $750 for each of its employees.
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Thursday, November 19, 2009
Senate Says Health Plan Will Cover Another 31 Million
Senate Says Health Plan Will Cover Another 31 Million; The New York Times