Excerpted from “Obama offers plan to revive healthcare push
,” By John Whitesides and Patricia Zengerle, Reuters
, Mon Feb 22, 2010 1:43pm EST
resident Barack Obama tried to rejuvenate his stalled healthcare overhaul on Monday with a plan to make insurance coverage more affordable and to bolster government authority to regulate premium hikes.
Obama will push the proposal at a bipartisan White House healthcare summit on Thursday in a last-ditch bid to break an impasse in the Congress and rally support for a sweeping overhaul that would tighten regulations on insurers and expand coverage to tens of millions of Americans. …
he new proposal, based on the Senate bill, would cost $950 billion over 10 years -- up from the Senate bill's $871 billion price tag -- and reduce the deficit by about $100 billion over the same period, White House officials estimated.
The plan offered several changes to the Senate bill to attract support from wavering Democrats but did not incorporate Republican ideas to limit medical malpractice lawsuits, an item of major emphasis for Republicans.
Obama's revised plan would expand tax credits for middle-class workers to make insurance more affordable, and would extend taxes for Medicare, the federal health insurance program for the elderly and disabled, to unearned income.
It provides U.S. government authority to block insurance premium hikes.
It also eliminates a controversial Senate deal exempting the state of Nebraska from paying for Medicaid expansion costs, closes a "doughnut hole" gap in prescription drug coverage, and incorporates a January deal raising the income threshold for a tax on high-cost "Cadillac" health insurance plans.
The proposal provides more tax credits to small businesses than in either the Senate or House bills and provides all states full federal funding for an expansion of Medicaid, the government health insurance program for the poor, for four years, the White House said.
The Obama proposal would close the "doughnut hole" in prescription drug coverage under Medicare by imposing $10 billion more in fees on drugmakers.
Like the Senate bill, the proposal would not include a mandate on employers to offer insurance and would extend coverage to about 31 million uninsured Americans, the White House said. …