Tuesday, January 5, 2010

What will the final health reform bill look like?

What will the final health reform bill look like? Here are some predictions from Linda Bergthold, a health policy consultant.

  • A bill similar to the Senate bill will pass and be signed into law sometime around Valentines Day.
  • Lower and middle income families will get financial assistance to purchase insurance. Subsidies will be more generous than they are in the Senate version, more like the House version.
  • Medicare coverage of prescription drugs will be improved.
  • The roughly $899 billion bill willl be fully paid for and will reduce the deficit by more than $100 billion over the first 10 years.
  • There will be an individual mandate but the penalities for not purchasing insurance will be weak and subsidies for purchasing insurance will be increased over the Senate bill.
  • There will be an employer mandate but again the penalities will be weak.
  • There will be state exchanges, no national exchange.
  • The Senate restriction on aboriton requiring separate checks will prevail.
  • The House and Senate will compromise on how to raise revenues to pay for the bill. The House tax on the rich will be raised from taxing those with individual income over $500,000 to those with income over $1 million. The Senate will decrease the tax on so-called cadillac plans.
  • There will be no public option but access to the national nonprofit option in the Senate bill will be expanded.
We’ll see if Bergthold is right. To read her full predictions go to


What is clear is that Republicans will campaign against the bill regardless of its final form. The No/Nothings are already gearing up to make the repeal of health reform a major campaign issue in the 2010 and 2012 elections. The Democrats will need to sell the benefits of what will clearly be their bill since no Republican will vote for the final version.

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