KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Details Emerge As House Democrats Plan To Release Health Bill

"House Democrats are preparing on Tuesday afternoon to unveil a full draft of their sweeping health care legislation, including an income surtax on the country's highest wage-earners to help pay the 10-year, roughly $1 trillion cost of the measure," the New York Times reports. House speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., will be joined by top Democrats for a press conference this afternoon to reveal the bill.

"The bill will prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions, and will also require all Americans to obtain health insurance. But many of its key provisions, including the public insurance option, will take several years to kick in" (Herszenhorn, 7/14).

CQ Politics: "House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and the chairmen of the three House committees involved in drafting the health care bill were to unveil their plan at a 2:45 p.m. news conference. The leaders have struggled to nail down support for their legislation, which has run into resistance from conservative Blue Dog Democrats because of its cost and proposed surtax on wealthy Americans" (7/14).

The bill "will include surtaxes on the wealthy starting in 2011 and rising in 2013 if more money is needed to pay for its programs, Democratic Representative Ron Kind (D-Wis.) said, Reuters reports. "Kind outlined the surtax rates as 1 percent on $350,000 income, 2 percent on $500,000 income and 3 percent on $1 million. If more funds are needed, the rates will rise to 2 percent, 3 percent and 4 percent, respectively, in 2013."

Also included in the bill will be the establishment of "a blue-ribbon Medicare commission," charged with the task of making recommendations for "changes in Medicare reimbursement rates," within one year. "The new rates would go into effect for two years with $8 billion set aside to pay for the changes, and Congress would then review the Medicare rates, Kind said after a healthcare meeting" (Smith and Frank, 7/14).

Associated Press: "The House measure would spend billions of dollars subsidizing lower-income individuals and families who cannot afford coverage in an attempt to cut dramatically into the ranks of the uninsured. Its total price tag remains unknown, but to comply with another presidential priority, it would rely on cuts in Medicare and Medicaid to begin slowing the rate of growth in health care spending overall. The measure is expected to impose a fee on large companies that fail to offer insurance, and individuals also would have to pay a penalty if they refused to purchase affordable insurance" (Espo and Werner, 7/14).

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