COLUMBIA — On Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee approved a 10-year, $829 billion plan to overhaul the country's health care system and open coverage to millions of people who have been without insurance.
The bill passed with the help of Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, the only Republican in the committee to vote for the bill. But many Republicans are still opposed to the bill as it stands, as are some moderate Democrats. The bill would, among many other things:
- create nonprofit insurance cooperatives that would be run by consumers at the state level;
- starting in 2013, would make tax credits available on a sliding scale basis for people and families who make between 134 and 400 percent of the federal poverty line;
- would phase in an excise tax on people who do not purchase health insurance: $200 in 2014; $400 in 2015; $600 in 2016; and $750 from 2017 on;
- would give tax credits to employers with no more than 25 full-time employees with an average annual income of no more than $40,000;
- create $13 billion in new fees and levy taxes on insurance companies
for charging a health plan that is more than $8,000 for individuals and
$21,000 for a household annually; and
- aim to cut spending on Medicare by reducing payments only for hospitals' actual performance on certain measures, a measure called "value-based purchasing" in the bill.
For a breakdown of all the health care bills, go here. There's no guarantee this bill will pass the Senate, and even if it does, it's very unlikely it will remain exactly the same.
Would you like to see any changes to the Senate Finance Committee's health care bill? What would your ideal health bill look like?