ubiquitous_a (ubiquitous_a) wrote in ontd_political,
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Obama's Health Care Proposal Lays Blueprint For Democratic Action



The Obama administration officially released its own proposal for comprehensive health care reform on Monday, in what constitutes a last-ditch effort to unite the Democratic Party around the legislation's passage.

Coming days before the much anticipated bipartisan health care reform summit this Thursday, the 11-page White House proposal is being pitched as a foundation for lawmakers to consider. Presidential aides stressed repeatedly on a call with reporters Monday that Republicans will have opportunities to amend the legislation.

"This is the opening bid for the health meeting," said communications Director Dan Pfeiffer. "We took our best shot at bridging the differences. We think this makes some strong steps towards improving the final product. It is our hopes the Republicans will come together around their plan and post that online prior to the meeting."

But it clearly remains a Democratic effort. Working off the Senate's bill but melding in key provisions from the House's versions of reform, White House officials said that their proposal adds another $75 billion in costs to the legislation, bringing the total up to $950 billion over the next decade. All of which will be deficit neutral.

Among the major changes made include the following:

The president's legislation removes the $100 million in Medicaid funding that Sen. Ben Nebraska (D-Neb.) had secured for his home state of Nebraska -- funding that, after intense criticism, he wanted removed.

The president's legislation tacks toward the House version when it comes to helping individuals purchase insurance. It also adopts the Senate's approach when it comes to penalizing individuals who don't buy insurance -- basing the penalty on flat dollar assessments rather than a percentage of income and including a "hardship" exemption for families who simply cannot pay the fine.

The president's legislation closes the Medicare prescription drug "donut hole" coverage gap by 2010 -- choosing the House's language rather than the Senate's (which would provided a 50 percent discount for only certain drugs in the hole). What this means to the deal that the White House cut with the pharmaceutical industry at the beginning of the health care reform process is unclear.

The president's legislation uses the Senate's model for health insurance exchanges (virtual marketplaces for consumers to compare and buy coverage) making them state-based as opposed to nationally based. A plugged-in activist told the Huffington Post that this could be because it would be impossible to pass national exchanges into law using reconciliation.

The president's legislation sides with the Senate on abortion provisions, which fall short of the more aggressive anti-choice measures adopted in the House.

The president's legislation sides with the Senate on pay-for provisions, though it goes a long way toward pacifying those concerned about the so-called Cadillac tax. The threshold of which health care plans would be hit by that tax was raised from $23,000 for a family plan to $27,500. And the policy itself would not start until 2018.

The president's legislation includes a new wrinkle: establishing a national health insurance authority that would help states combat insurers that instituted unreasonable premium increases. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) introduced this same proposal last week.

Finally, despite a late-stage push for the White House to include a public option for insurance coverage in the final bill, the president's proposal does not have an additional element of government-run insurance.

"There is not a public option in here," said Pfeiffer, before insisting that the president does support the provision.

With the health care summit scheduled for this Thursday, the White House is hoping that this foundation will get simply a sliver of support from the Republican caucus. But aides aren't holding their breath. Calling for an up-or-down vote on the bill, Pfeiffer nevertheless declined to surrender the idea that Democrats would pass legislation using reconciliation -- the parliamentary process that requires only a simply majority and avoids a filibuster.

"We have made no determination as to which process to move forward with," he said.

The president's proposal is designed to play the role traditionally occupied by House and Senate negotiators in conference committee -- bringing together disparate factions around one cohesive reform package. White House aides said that they consulted and worked with members of Congress when drafting this approach. Whether they have the necessary support of the Democratic caucus to get it passed, however, is still very much an open question.

"The proposal we are putting on line is informed by our discussions with the House ad the Senate leadership," Pfeiffer said. "But it is the president's proposal."


Source

Finally, despite a late-stage push for the White House to include a public option for insurance coverage in the final bill, the president's proposal does not have an additional element of government-run insurance.

"There is not a public option in here," said Pfeiffer, before insisting that the president does support the provision.

While I'm glad the White House is finally taking some honest-to-God initiative and most of it seems pretty decent, the omission of a Public Option is most certainly NOT ACCEPTABLE.

I will be watching the summit this week, btw, with avid interest and a big-ass container of popcorn.

ETA:  Here's the whole plan. (Thx to thebigbadbutch )


ETA2:  I hadn't had a chance to read the whole plan yet, but as cookie_nut  appropriately pointed out, there is a mention of the Public Option down under the section dealing with how the President's plan will help those who don't have health insurance:

"Offers a public health insurance option to provide the uninsured and those who can’t find affordable coverage with a real choice.   The President believes this option will promote competition, hold insurance companies accountable and assure affordable choices. It is completely voluntary.  The President believes the public option must operate like any private insurance company – it must be self-sufficient and rely on the premiums it collects. "


Okay, so maybe Dan Pfeiffer didn't read the thing before talking about it?  The hell?
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