Compare the Bills

The Senate has now passed a resolution allowing debate on the healthcare reform bill.  It is likely that the debate will last several weeks. The New York Times has produced a useful comparison of the House & Senate versions of the bill.  I’ve taken the comparison, put it into Excel and then created a PDF, which is attached.  The document is ready for printing. Compare House & Senate Bills

Reid to introduce Senate Bill

FINALLY.  It now appears that the Senate bill will be introduced to the Democratic caucus this evening and to the rest of us tomorrow after weeks (months) of delays.  This is the bill that was to be introduced and passed in August. I find that the reason for the most recent delay quite telling.  Under Senate rules, the Senate can not debate a bill without a vote.  To even start the healthcare debate, the Senate must get 60 votes and without 60 votes, the bill can’t be even introduced for a debate. Now if Senator Reid is having trouble getting 60 votes to begin a debate, how does he expect to get 60 votes to pass the bill? I think the answer is that he doesn’t expect to pass the bill with 60 votes. The only way I see this bill getting through the Senate is using the budget reconciliation process, which will require 50 votes (plus the Vice President).  However, the budget reconciliation process is not appropriate for all the provisions of the bill and it is the Senate Parliamentarian who will ultimately decide what can be included.  Under the budget reconciliation rules, the Senate can pass a bill …

Frog Theory of Healthcare Reform

Ever heard the story about how to boil a frog? Put a frog in boiling water and guess what — he jumps out. But, put a frog in cool water, turn on the heat and slowly crank up the temperature, the frog slowly gets boiled alive. The House’s healthcare bill treats the American people like frogs in cool water.  As I’ve gone back through the major provisions of the bill again I’m struck by how the public option is being presented.   At first it is open only to those who don’t have any insurance, or for employers with less than 25 employees — truly small business. As a small business owner, I know that getting insurance is really tough for small businesses.  The House leaders also know of this frustration, so they start at 25 employees for the public option threshold. The public option starts in 2013, which seems so far away that most American’s won’t feel threatened. In 2014, the public option is opened to businesses with less than 50 employees.  And further, individuals who are offered health insurance by their employer can opt-out and join the public option. In 2014, the public option is extended to companies with …

House Bill Introduced

Below is a summary of the House’s version of the healthcare reform bill.  There have been rumors that no amendments will be allowed on this bill so this may be close to the final House bill.  Once passed, they will wait on the Senate’s bill and then a committee will work to reconcile the two.  It still appears that the Senate does not have 60 votes for any bill and in my mind it looks likely that the Senate will use the budget reconciliation rules to pass the bill with 51 votes. Summary below by year. 2010 Health plans must spend 85% of premiums on medical care, or rebate extra to policy holders.  This excludes Medicare Advantage which has the 85% rule starting in 2013. Dependent age on a policy is increased from 19 to 26. Bans lifetime limits on health policies Ends practice of terminating healthcare benefits because of claims Reduces pre-existing condition look back to 30 days from 6 months and limits the period of exclusion of coverage. Creates $5 billion pool for those who can’t get insurance due to pre-existing conditions Reduces donut hole in Part D Medicare by $500 Eliminates co-pay & cost sharing for Medicare …

Senate Bill Moves Forward

With the passage of the healthcare bill by the Senate Finance Committee, the real fun begins. Senator Reid begins the process of merging the Dodd/Kennedy bill with the Baucus bill. Almost certainly the full Senate bill will have a public option supported by the President. The question becomes — how does the Senate pass the bill? We don’t think that Senator Snowe, who voted for the Baucus bill, will vote for a public option. Can the Senate pass a bill with 60 votes with a public option? Big question. If not, then Reid must use the Budget Reconciliation process, which we understand had a deadline that has already passed. So the Senate will need to vote to extend the Reconciliation deadline, then pass the bill with 50 votes. Can it be done? Sure. But will Senate Democrats, who have seen the wrath of the public this summer in town halls, vote for this bill. I expect that the answer in both the House and Senate is “Yes” — to the detriment of the United States and potentially to their careers. Why? I think the President will pull out all stops. So much funding comes from the various PACs and the …