Bipartisan Bill Nearing Completion

Janet Adamy, Jonathan Weisman, and Greg Hitt of The Wall Street Journal gave an update Tuesday on health care reform…

The bipartisan plan that has been in the works in the Senate Finance Committee by three Democrats and three Republicans is slowly on its way towards completion.  The plan, the latest version of which was handed out by Max Baucus (D-MT) over the weekend, does not include the controversial public option.

In a speech given yesterday, President Obama stated that he continues to believe a public option is the best way to “…improve quality and lower costs.”

On Wednesday, Obama will address Congress in an attempt to lay out his vision of getting the final bill up to par with his standards.  Until now, Obama has given this task to Congressional leaders and Senatorial committees that have only created more confusion.

Meanwhile, the Senate Finance Committee hopes to finalize its version of the bill by the end of the week.  Thus far, their bill would cost less than $900 billion over 10 years and would give health insurance to millions of uninsured Americans.  In place of the public option is a group of new not-for-profit insurance co-ops that would compete with private insurers.

While the plan would require most Americans to have health insurance, it would not require businesses to provide insurance to their employees-a provision that should win over Republican support.  Another aspect of the bill that Republicans will like is that it is paid for through spending cuts and revenue increases and does not increase the national deficit.  The plan would also give tax credits to the low to middle-income Americans to help them buy insurance and expand Medicaid for the nation’s poorest.

A lot of parties are pleased with the newest bill, but insurance companies are already complaining.  The bill includes a fee placed on insurance companies that will be based on their market share.  Crafters of the bill hope this new revenue stream would ensure a deficit-neutral plan.

Robert Zirkelbach, a spokesman for America’s Health Insurance Plans, said, “New taxes on health-care coverage will only make coverage less affordable for families and small businesses.”  Other sources of revenue in the bill include eliminating wasted funds in Medicare, which crafters say will not lower the quality of care to seniors.

We will keep you updated on Wednesday’s events surrounding health care reform.

To read the entire Wall Street Journal article, click here: Key Week for Obama Starts on Feisty Note