Health care coverage was extended to tens of millions of uninsured Americans on Sunday night after the Senate-passed bill cleared the House on a 219-212 vote. President Barack Obama made health care reform one of his top priorities after taking office last year.
Some key points of the bill:
- Most Americans are required to purchase insurance and face penalties if they refuse.
- Medicaid coverage would be required for incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level. That would be $29,327 for a family of four.
- Under federal regulation, insurance companies are forbidden from placing lifetime dollar limits on policies, denying coverage because of pre-existing conditions and canceling policies when a policyholder becomes ill.
- Parents can keep their children under their insurance until age 26.
- A high-risk pool would offer coverage to the uninsured with medical problems until 2014, when coverage expansion starts.
- More than $400 billion in higher taxes over the decade to fund changes; half of the taxes will come from a new Medicare payroll tax on individuals making over $200,000 and couples incomes over $250,000.
- Total cost is estimated to be $940 billion over ten years and extend coverage to around 32 million uninsured people.
Also included in the bill is student loan reform; all student loans would originate from the government.
If the Senate votes to approve reconciliation, it can work to reconcile differences between this bill and another bill approved by the House in November after a 220-211 vote by the House approved the action.
How do you feel about the health care bill?