Now that the House of Representatives has narrowly passed its healthcare legislation, everyone is looking to the Senate which has a vastly different view of the public insurance option including a state opt-out and income tax increase issues. The Senate Health Committee also proposes to have the public insurance plan compete with private ones in the marketplace, negotiating rates with physicians and hospitals.
The Senate majority leader Harry Reid has a tough road ahead. He must combine two versions of the senate health legislation- one from the finance committee- the other from the health committee. Cost analysis by the Congressional Budget office which is underway, is holding Mr. Reid back. The only thing about the legislation that we do know is that there will be a public option plan in the mix.
The Senate includes a tax on the “Cadillac” insurance coverage while Democrats want to raise taxes on higher income citizens.
The next obstacle on the legislative battlefield is for the House and Senate versions to be merged into one prior to the final vote.
President Obama issued a statement thanking the House for passing the healthcare reform bill and reiterated his confidence that the Senate will concur, saying “I look forward to signing comprehensive health insurance reform into law by the end of the year.”
Republicans are basically still not in sync with major points of the legislation. Oklahoman Republican Tom Coburn is threatening to have all 2,000 pages of the bill to be read aloud on the Senate floor. Under Senate rules, this could not be stopped.
As opposed to the House bill, at least this way we know that the Senators would have read or be familiar with all the proposals on these pages!