The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee this week plans to mark up long-awaited health care reform legislation, and the Finance Committee will follow within a week. What is your final, most important, advice for lawmakers as they enter this critical stage?
While most of the elements in the bills were expected, such as individual and employer mandates, some new proposals are emerging. Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., last week proposed a compromise public health plan that would create a system of pooling similar to a co-op that people could use to buy insurance. The co-op version of a public plan must be nonprofit; follow the same rules as private insurers; give members democratic control; be governed by an elected board; and return surpluses to members or reinvest them to allow for lower premiums or better benefits, according to a CongressDaily report.
HELP Committee Democrats' bill includes provisions allowing people to purchase long-term care insurance from the government and for young people to stay on their parents' policies until age 26. There's also a reinsurance plan for older, pre-Medicare retirees.
HELP did not include proposals on the most controversial topics, such as creation of a public health plan, and it didn't say how it would pay for the bill.
What's strong, what's missing, and what's wrong? What kinds of amendments make sense as committee members begin their markups?
Overhaul Hits Speed Bumps
Two days after a Congressional Budget Office estimate that the proposed health care overhaul will cost the federal government more than $1 trillion over the next decade, Democrats are scrambling to find new taxes to close the budget gap.
Meanwhile, a committee markup for the bill, which was slated to begin this week, has likely been delayed until after the July Fourth recess.