Monday, February 22, 2010

Finally: White House Offers Detailed Healthcare Reform Plan

As promised, the White House has released a detailed proposal to reform the nation's healthcare and insurance systems. The White House proposals seeks to bridge the gaps between the House and Senate bills. The White House, however, used the Senate bill as a model.

Here are some of the substantive changes, as summarized by the New York Times:

To begin with, Mr. Obama would eliminate a controversial special deal for Nebraska — widely derided by Republicans as the “cornhusker kickback” — that called for the federal government to pay the full cost of a Medicaid expansion for that state. Instead, the White House would help all states absorb the cost of the Medicaid expansion from 2014, when it begins, until 2017.

And while the president adopts the Senate’s proposed excise tax on high-cost, employer sponsored insurance plans, Mr. Obama makes some crucial adjustments based on an agreement reached in January with organized labor leaders, while also trying to avoid the appearance of special treatment for unions. Most crucially, the president would delay imposing the tax until 2018 for all taxpayers, not just for health benefits provided through collectively-bargained union contracts. . . .

And the bill offers the Senate’s less restrictive language on abortion; it does not include the so-called “Stupak amendment,” which would bar insurers from offering abortion coverage to anyone buying a policy with a federal subsidy. The absence of the Stupak provision, named for Representative Bart Stupak, the conservative Michigan Democrat, could complicate matters for Mr. Obama in the House, where conservatives, led by Mr. Stupak, are adamant that the provision be included.

Mr. Obama largely adopted the Senate’s approach to paying for the legislation, including a proposed increase in the Medicare payroll tax for individuals earning more than $200,000 a year and for couples earning more than $250,000.

He opted for the Senate’s proposal to create state-based insurance exchanges, or marketplaces, rather than a single national exchange as proposed by the House. . . .

Until now, President Obama has remained fuzzy regarding the specifics of healthcare reform. Instead, he has supported broad and general proposals and left much of the details to Congress.

Many critics contend that his muted voice on the issue has allowed conservatives to distort the terms of the debate and made the White House come across as lacking leadership. A recent Newsweek survey shows that respondents oppose the Democrats' healthcare proposals -- until they hear the details. These results suggests that people generally lack knowledge of the actual details regarding healthcare reform.

Some liberals are upset that President Obama accepted and promoted compromises (on matters like the public option) to appease moderates like Senators Joe Lieberman and Mary Landrieu. This new proposal might not alleviate the Left's frustration with the White House. But, perhaps, it will help provide the final political push to pass some semblance of reform.


Sue said...

thanks Darren. This helped explain it a little clearer but looks like we still have to wait til after Thursdays meeting to get even more info. I sure hope it's worth the wait!

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

You're welcome, Sue! I am interested in seeing how this progresses.

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