Thursday, October 01, 2009

More amendments being debated on US Health Care Bill

Some proposals are being considered in the US Health Care bill that Senators hope will make coverage more affordable. The bill originally imposed fines on people who could not afford insurance, but a new amendment seeks to give an exception to people who incomes are too low.

From the New York Times, writer David M. Herszenhorn explains some of the proposals being considered.

Among the proposals under consideration is an amendment by Senator Maria Cantwell, Democrat of Washington, that would create a “basic health plan” for Americans earning less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level, or $44,100 for a family of four. The proposal would let states develop or expand various existing insurance programs that now typically cover people who qualify for Medicaid. Small states could develop plans jointly.

The Baucus bill would already expand Medicaid to Americans earning up to 133 percent of poverty, and Ms. Cantwell’s proposal would effectively expand it further. But because her plan is expected to be cheaper than providing subsidies to those low-income people to buy their own insurance, it could save money that could be used to make other provisions of the bill more generous.

Other potential components of the affordability package include a proposal by Senator Olympia J. Snowe, Republican of Maine, to phase in the financial penalty for people who fail to obtain health insurance.

There is also an amendment by Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, that would allow exemptions from the penalty if insurance would cost more than 7 percent of household income. The bill currently sets the exemption at 10 percent of income.

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