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One Step Closer to Health Care Reform: The House of Representatives Announces a Bill

Yesterday, the House announced they have combined the three bills passed by the House Committees. The almost 2,000 page bill includes the public health insurance option and is estimated to cost $894 billion over ten years while extending insurance coverage to 36 million Americans.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, this bill will guarantee that 96 percent of Americans have health insurance (20 percent of individuals under age 65 were without health insurance in 2008).

In addition to the public option, the bill:
  • subsidizes insurance for poorer Americans,
  • creates health insurance exchanges to make it easier for small groups and individuals to purchase coverage,
  • caps annual out-of-pocket expenses, and
  • prevents insurance companies from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions.
Through tax surcharges on wealthy Americans and spending constraints in Medicare and Medicaid, the bill is expected to cut the federal deficit by roughly $30 billion over the next decade. Specifically, under the bill
  • individuals with annual incomes over $500,000 -- as well as families earning more than $1 million – will have a 5.4 percent income tax surcharge, and
  • Medicare expenditures would be cut by 1.3 percent annually.
The next step is for the bill to go to the floor of the House to be debated and eventually voted on. Any bill passed by the House will then have to be merged with any legislation passed by the Senate. Then the merged bill would have to be voted on both chambers and if passed would then go to the President for his potential signature.

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