Thursday, July 09, 2009

Health care reform update

The AP reports that the a group of Democrats (wisely in my view) is urging the House leadership to slow down on the health care reform initiative. "The emerging bill [in the House] 'lacks a number of elements essential to preserving what works and fixing what is broken,' 40 members of the Blue Dog Coalition of moderate to conservative Democrats wrote in a letter to party leaders. To win their support, they said, any legislation would need to be much more aggressive in reining in the growth of health care." The AP also reports that both House and Senate committees lost at least a bit of momentum in their effort to achieve passage of a universal health care bill by each House before the August recess.

Modern reports that "A group of hospital associations from states that deliver self-described “low cost and high quality” healthcare is launching a proposal for value-based payment reform that could fly in the face of the agreement that national hospital associations announced Wednesday at the White House." In an article on Tuesday, the New York Times raised questions about the long term value of these deals to lower health care costs.

Tonight the New York Times reports that Democrats are at odds over the method of financing covering the uninsured.

Senate negotiators had been eyeing a tax on some employer-provided health benefits but shifted course this week after the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, and other top Democrats voiced opposition. The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi of California, said Thursday that the House bill would not tax those benefits.

Instead, the House Ways and Means Committee was said to be nearing agreement on an income tax surcharge of 2 percent or more on Americans with the highest incomes — those earning more than $250,000. The surtax would rise for those earning $500,000 and rise again for those earning more than $1 million.

At the same time, aides said that the House was moving away from other ideas, including a proposed sales tax on sodas and other sugary drinks and a new payroll tax of 0.3 percent to be paid by employees and employers.
I repeat -- the devil clearly is in the details.

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