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Categorized | Legislation, Reform

At Last – Long-awaited Health Reform Reconciliation Bill Released

Today House Democratic Leadership released the legislative text of the Reconciliation Act of 2010, sponsored by House Budget Chairman John Spratt.  The bill amends a number of provisions in the Senate-passed “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” including:

  • Provides additional subsidies to improve the affordability of coverage for individuals with incomes up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level;
  • Imposes additional requirements for coverage of non-dependent children up to age 26;
  • Closes the Medicare Part D donut hole by 2020 by offering seniors an immediate $250 rebate and subsequently increasing discounts on brand-name drugs;
  • Strikes the controversial 100-percent federal Medicaid matching rate for Nebraska (known as the “Cornhusker kickback”);
  • Delays the annual cap on contributions to health flexible spending accounts (FSAs) by two years until 2013;
  • Delays the excise tax on high-cost health plans to 2018, increases the dollar thresholds and indexes them to inflation;
  • Delays the industry fee on sales of brand name pharmaceuticals by one year to 2011 but increases revenues raised by $4.8 billion;
  • Delays the medical device tax on manufacturers by two years until 2013 and switches the industry fee to an excise tax on the first sale for use of medical devices at 2.9 percent rate; and
  • Delays the health insurance industry fee by three years to 2014.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announced that the House would convene at 1:00 pm on Sunday, but the final vote on the reconciliation bill would likely not begin until later in the day to comply with the Democratic Leaders’ promise to give Members 72 hours to review the final bill text.  The House is expected to approve the Senate-passed health reform bill using a “deem-and-pass” procedure that Republicans protest as unconstitutional.

Since the bill’s release, several House members have switched their previous ‘no’ vote to a ‘yes’ – including Reps. Bart Gordon (D-TN), Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), Betsy Markey (D-CO), and Mike Arcuri (D-NY).  Additionally, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) announced yesterday that he will now vote in favor of the bill.