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Senate HELP Committee releases Health Care
Bill containing a Public Plan
from the Senate Committee on Health,
Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) filed a
651-page health care reform bill on
The bill contains a public health plan, an employer
mandate, and a guaranteed issue of policy,
thereby disallowing the refusal of coverage
for pre-existing conditions.
On retiree issues, there is a Medicare buy-in for 55-64
year olds, which creates a $10 billion fund
to subsidize employers for the buy-in. It
is similar to the Part D employer subsidy.
Also included in the bill is a provision to explain the
effectiveness of drugs with clear
information. Other Medicare changes will be
in the Senate Finance Committee bill, which
will most likely be out next week.
The Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act
of 2009 (CLASS Act) is included in the HELP
bill, creating a long term insurance program
for adults who become functionally
This will help people with severe functional impairments
and their families pay for the services and
support they need to stay functional and
independent, and allow them to have choices
about community participation, education and
Sen. Chris Dodd
(D-CT) will manage the bill as Committee
Ted Kennedy (D-MA) battles brain cancer.
had reiterated to
lawmakers last week that he thinks Americans
should have the choice of a public insurance
plan, and the Secretary of the Department of
Health and Human Services
Sebelius, amplified that
message in an interview with
However, the American Medical Association (AMA) has
notified Congress that it will oppose
creation of a government-sponsored insurance
“We have waited a long time for this day,” said
Executive Director of the Alliance for
Retired Americans.. “Now we need to see
health care reform through to the end.”
House Releases Its Own Health Care Bill
Containing a Public Plan
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman
Charlie Rangel (D-NY),
Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman
Henry Waxman (D-CA), and
Education and Labor Committee Chairman
George Miller (D-CA)
unanimously agree that a public option plan
is necessary in providing all citizens with
affordable and efficient health care.
The Tri-Committee released their health care reform bill
this week, also on Tuesday.
The bill proposes a Health Insurance Exchange that would
include a new public option, as well as
current private options.
Employers would be able to choose between providing
coverage to workers or contributing funds on
behalf of their uncovered workers (“play or
pay”). Like the Senate bill, the House bill
prohibits insurers from excluding patients
based on pre-existing conditions.
Once this reform is in full effect, insurance will be
mandated, excluding cases of hardship.
For Medicare, the outline has several Part D improvements:
it would shrink the doughnut hole coverage
gap; improve low income access; leave out
Part D means testing; eliminate Medicare
Advantage overpayments; and eliminate cost
sharing for Medicare preventive services.
However, the House bill does not include the CLASS Act for
long term care.
“The public plan option, coupled with the ‘play or pay’
mandate, is a commendable step in making
health care affordable for all,” said
Barbara J. Easterling,
President of the Alliance.