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President Obama Unveils Health Care Proposal

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President Obama unveiled his proposal for health care reform Monday in an effort to jumpstart the bill before his planned summit with both Republicans and Democrats on Thursday.

Not much has changed. President Obama sticks with the Senate bill in almost every way.  Some of items that stay the same in the President’s plan include the Senate’s recommendations regarding immigrants, Puerto Rico and abortion coverage.  The Senate version of the health care reform legislation includes the problematic Nelson-Casey provision that would place tremendous bureaucratic obstacles for abortion to be included in insurance offered in the new health care marketplace. In addition, undocumented immigrants and U.S. citizens who live in Puerto Rico would not be able to use their own money to buy a plan in the new health insurance marketplace.

Key changes and additions include creating a new Health Insurance Rate Authority which would review insurance rate hikes to make sure they are fair.  In addition, taxes on health plans will not go into affect until 2018 and the threshold has been raised for when these taxes apply to individuals and families.  The President also proposes greater federal assistance to all states for Medicaid and immediate relief for seniors struggling to pay for their prescription drugs. Lastly, his plan strikes a compromise between the House and Senate bills regarding helping families afford insurance, as well as the percentage of medical costs that families would be expected to pay.

What's next?

  • An open bipartisan meeting to discuss additional Republican and Democratic ideas for health care reform will take place on Thursday, Feb. 25, at 10 a.m. at the Blair House in Washington, DC.  It will be streamed live at: http://www.WhiteHouse.gov/live
  • Democrats are hoping for a two-step process following the meeting.  The Senate will use the budget reconciliation process to pass the changes to its bill.  The House would then clear the bill and its changes.  The bill then travels to the President's desk for signing.