The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee has unveiled a summary of his committee's health care reform bill. The proposal, crafted by Senator Max Baucus, D-Mont., would cost $856 billion over 10 years and mandate insurance coverage for every American by 2013. The proposal does not include a government-run public health insurance option, but it does contain provisions to meet other major goals for health care reform. Baucus calls the proposal pragmatic with a realistic chance of passing the Senate, rather than something favored by one side or the other.
The bill would require most people to purchase insurance coverage; provides for steep fines for not carrying insurance; makes health insurance more affordable for self-employed people and those working for small companies; provides for the establishment of new insurance purchasing exchanges; and the proposal would prohibit illegal immigrants from obtaining health coverage through those insurance exchanges.
The plan would be financed by more than $500 billion in various spending reductions, including Medicare, while calling for almost $350 billion in new taxes and fees. Insurers would be hit with $6 billion in new fees, with another $4 billion coming from the medical device manufacturing sector. Smaller sums would come from drug makers and clinical laboratories.