Home » Blog » Glass Half Full

Glass Half Full

Despite the disappointment of many progressives as a result of the public option’s death, it is important to understand that the current bill still holds true to its core values, and is a significant improvement over the Finance Committee’s draft (and still must eventually merge with the House bill). The Senate bill of course has its problems, but 60 votes is a necessary fact and the progressiveness of the legislation would come as close to that number as possible whether there were 65 Democrats (where a more liberal bill could lose a few conservative Dems) or 55 Democrats (where a less liberal bill would need Snowe, Collins, etc). Read John Podesta’s 10 Reasons Why Progressives Should Still Support the Senate Passing the Bill for a rational perspective, as well as Nate Silver’s 20 Questions for Bill Killers if you haven’t seen them yet.

A cloture vote (to limit further debate) could come as early as Saturday night, and after some more procedural hurdles a December 23rd or 24th passage out of the Senate is the new goal. Igor Volsky illustrates how the merged Senate bill is still vastly superior to the Finance Committee’s version, which I have summarized below:

Affordability For Middle Class

Merged Bill: Families and individuals between 133% and 400% of the poverty level will spend 2.8% to 9.8% of their income on premiums.

Finance Committee: Families and individuals between 133% and 400% of the poverty level will only have to spend 2% to 12% of their income on premiums.

Insurance Regulations

Merged Bill: Rating variation is based only on age (limited to 3:1). Limits deductibles for health plans in the small group market. Prohibits individual and group health plans from requiring a waiting period for coverage of more than 90 days. Insurers are required to maintain an 85% medical loss ratio until 2014.

Finance Committee: Rating variation is based only on age (limited to 4:1). Insurers are only required to report their medical loss ratio.

Matching Funds For State Medicaid Expansions

Merged Bill: To finance the coverage for the newly eligible, states will receive 100% federal funding for 2014 through 2016. States receive higher FMAP matching funds thereafter.

Finance Committee: To finance the coverage for the newly eligible, states would not see 100% match, but would receive an increase in FMAP.

Individual Mandate

Merged Bill: Fewer Americans would be exempt from purchasing coverage. According to the CBO, the merged Senate bill would cover 31 million Americans, compared to Finance Committee’s 28 million.

Finance Committee: More Americans would be exempt from purchasing coverage. The draft included a zero-penalty year and the proposal as a whole would have covered fewer people.

Long Term Care Insurance

Merged Bill: Contains a long-term care insurance program, the CLASS Act, a voluntary long-term care insurance program which covers medical and non-medical services like dressing, bathing, and using the bathroom.

Finance Committee: Did not contain a CLASS Act provision.

Younger Americans

Merged Bill: Younger Americans are eligible for a catastrophic plan up to age 30. Provides dependent coverage for children up to age 26.

Finance Committee: Younger Americans are eligible for a catastrophic plan up to age 25.

Tags: