That big thud you heard last night was not the weekly newspaper slamming into the screen door on the front porch, but rather that was the latest health care bill from Senate Democrats, tipping the scales at 2,047 pages in all.
The basics of the bill are much like those we have seen before in the House and Senate, as it would do away with pre-existing condition insurance exclusions, guarantee the renewal of health coverage, prohibit discriminatory insurance rates and more.
But there are some key differences that emerged as I made my way through the bill last night, especially in how the bill would raise money to pay for these health reforms.
First, Senator Harry Reid's bill would raise the Medicare tax on people making more than $200,000 per year, and couples making more than $250,000. That would bring in almost $54 billion over ten years.
So much for that Presidential pledge not to raise taxes on people making more than $250k, eh?
The tax on high value, "Cadillac" insurance plans would be 40% under this bill.
The plan would also limit "Flexible spending accounts" that some workers use to shield up to $3,000 in income each year, by putting pre-tax dollars into health accounts. For some, that amount would be limited to $2,500.
This bill would even levy a 5% tax on elective cosmetic surgery procedures. So, if you are thinking about a nose job or a face lift, you might want to get cracking on that plan to save yourself some dough.
One interesting change in the bill is that the public option is no more in this Senate legislation, as it has been renamed the "Community Health Insurance Option".
A preliminary estimate from the Congressional Budget Office pegs the cost at $848 billion over ten years, but a lot of other things could still get added.
Sen. Reid now hopes to at least get a vote on the motion to proceed to the bill, so that after Thanksgiving, the debate will be all about the health care bill, and not parliamentary motions.
It could keep the Senate in session this week and into Thanksgiving week.
The members of the state ethics commission, eager to bring order to one of the most disordered corners of state government, hired a “receiver” last week to heal their agency and then did they only thing they could.
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