ABC News Senior Congressional Correspondent Jonathan Karl has seen a draft of Baucus’ proposed health care bill in the Senate Finance Committee. Baucus was reportedly going to meet with the so-called “Gang of Six” this afternoon and give them a take-it-or-leave it proposition for the bill, according to George Stephanopoulos.
According to Karl, here are some of the key points in the bill:
– By 2013, Americans would be required to have health insurance or pay a fine. Depending on income level, the fines could be as high as $3800 per family.
– Native Americans, the very poor and those with religious objections are exempt from this new mandate.
– There’s no mandate on companies to provide insurance to their employees.
– Health insurance companies bear a big share of the costs with two new taxes:
- A $6 billion annual tax that will be divided among companies based on market share
- A tax on so-called Cadillac plans; insurance plans valued at more than $8,000 for individuals or $21,000 for a family of four.
– Expansion of Medicaid to those up to 133 percent of the poverty level.
– Federal subsidies to help those up to 300 percent of the poverty level buy insurance
– No new government-run insurance program, aka “public option”
– As an alternative to the public option, the bill creates and funds non-profit “cooperatives” that will provide insurance coverage
– New regulations on insurance companies: e.g. Bans denial of coverage or higher rates b/c of pre-existing conditions. Insurance companies would still be allowed, however, to charge higher rates for smokers.
Baucus’ plan is already taking a heat from the left.
Meanwhile, according to the New York Times, President Obama was meeting with Democratic leaders on the eve of his major health care speech tomorrow to plot a strategy for pushing health care reform forward. The White House wouldn’t comment on how Baucus’ plan fits into the mix.
Administration officials have declined to discuss in depth either Mr. Baucus’s plan or the president’s speech, which Mr. Obama will deliver Wednesday night to a joint session of Congress. But the officials welcomed Mr. Baucus’s draft as important progress just as lawmakers are returning this week from their summer recess.