I'm very pleased to have Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House join us on C&L to live chat with all of you about the new health care reform bill that was just released. The House unveiled its plan yesterday entitled: America’s Affordable Health Choices Act. It's a comprehensive plan that does include what appears to be a very good public option. Speaker Pelosi will take as many questions as she can on this issue for an hour or so and I know you a have a lot of questions.
Today, the Chairmen of the three Committees with jurisdiction over health policy in the House (Energy & Commerce, Education & Labor, and Ways & Means) introduced America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 to curb out-of-control costs, encourage competition among insurance plans to improve choices for patients, and expand access to quality, affordable health care for all Americans.
TNR's Jonathan Cohen, who has been following the health care debate, is very optimistic about what is happening.
The three House committees writing health care legislation have just released the full text of their bill. And my immediate, admittedly tentative reaction is strongly positive. Once fully implemented, this reform plan will accomplish most of the goals on my mental checklist:
- Generous subisidies, available to people making up to 400 percent of the poverty line
- Expansion of Medicaid to cover people making less than 133 percent of the poverty line
- Guarantees of solid benefits for everybody, with limits on out-of-pocket spending
- Strong regulation of insurers, including requirements that insurers provide insurance to people with pre-existing conditions without higher rates
- An individual mandate, so that everybody (or what passes for everybody in these discussions) gets into the system and assumes some financial responsibility
- A public plan, one that appears to be strong, although I'll reserve judgment on that until I hear from the experts
- Choice of public and private plan, at first just for individuals and small businesses, but later for larger businesses and--possibly--eventually for everybody
- Efforts at payment reform, if not necessarily as strong as they could be
- Investment in primary care and prevention, which is not sexy but potentially important for general health...read on
The House released its health care reform bill today and will begin three simultaneous committee markups on different provisions later this week. Video of Waxman's statement, courtesy of TPM.
You can access House Committee summaries and the actual text at the House Education and Labor Committee site. Help us read through the bill.
First impression from the summaries: it's an excellent reform package, with lots of very worthwhile features. But we'll be looking through the details in the next few days.
The House of Representatives is now prepared to unveil their health reform legislation with markup taking place tomorrow and Thursday. It’s a good bill (more on that later) but it’s worth also giving a tip of the cap in the direction of the House process. The chairs and members of the three relevant committees did a great mitzvah by putting egos aside, forming a unified “tri-committee” bill writing process, largely shutting up about their internal negotiations, and getting down to the job of writing a bill that fits the parameters Americans voted for in November.
So what’s in the bill?
Well, there’s a fairly strong public plan. It needs to be financially self-supporting and nobody will be forced to accept its reimbursement rates, but it will be open to anyone with access to the Health Insurance Exchange will model its payments on Medicare and they say the default assumption will be that anyone who serves Medicare clients will also take Public Plan clients.
I'm still going through the entire plan myself, but please, let's welcome the Speaker to the blogosphere.
Editor's note: Off-topic and rude/inappropriate comments are not welcome and will be dispensed with. Just a warning. Play nice.
FROM THE SITEMONITOR: Comments at this post are now closed. Speaker Pelosi is no longer here to read your comments, and sitemonitors must move on to more recent threads. Thanks to those who participated. If you wish to discuss healthcare some more, trust me, this blog will be posting on it again frequently, and you are also welcome to use the nightly open thread.