Speaker Nancy Pelosi just unveiled the House Democrats’ health care bill, which is 1,990 pages (PDF here). You’ll forgive me if I haven’t yet read all of it, but the clear takeaway is that as expected, the bill is to the left of the Senate version. It includes a mandate that forces individuals to purchase insurance or pay a tax, as well as a requirement that employers provide insurance or pay a tax. It also creates government-run insurance exchanges on which a government-run plan would be offered alongside privately-administered plans that would be subject to heavier government regulation.
Pelosi said that the bill would cost less than $900 billion over 10 years, wouldn’t add to the deficit, and would expand coverage to 36 million who do not have health insurance. The problem with the $900 billion estimate is that it doesn’t include over $200 billion in costs for a so called “doc fix” which was included in the initial bill that was priced at over $1 trillion. Instead, as the Senate tried to do, the House will move separate legislation to prevent scheduled cuts to doctors’ payments under Medicare.
Scanning through the bill, I noticed that the bill would add a new section to the federal tax code: “PART VIII:HEALTH CARE RELATED TAXES.” Among the new taxes are penalties for individuals who don’t purchase insurance and employers who don’t provide insurance, income tax surcharges of up to 5.6% to those earning more than $1 million, and a 2.5% excise tax on medical devices.
Will provide updates as I read through the bill.