10 December 2009

More on Healthcare Compromise: Awaiting CBO Scoring

The Hill: Not so fast, say senators on health bill as they anticipate price tag

Reid and other senators have been mostly tight-lipped about what exactly is in the package they sent to the CBO for scoring, which Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) said would take four to five days.

The agreement appears to establish private, nonprofit health insurance programs that would be set up by the Office of Personnel Management.

These programs would be run by private companies, but a new government insurance plan could be triggered if the private plans are not acceptable. Centrists strongly resisted other forms of the public option.

In addition, the pending agreement would allow uninsured people between the ages of 55 and 64 who lack insurance to buy into the Medicare program.

The package also would accept a liberal demand to require health insurance companies to spend at least 90 percent of the premiums they collect on medical services and would expand the Children’s Health Insurance Program and Community Health Centers. Senators have set aside a proposal to broaden the Medicaid expansion in the healthcare bill from 133 percent of the federal poverty level to 150 percent.

The Medicare buy-in has received the most positive reviews from Democrats. Liberals have long sought this goal, but Landrieu said even the centrists are on board in principle. “We, all 10 of us, think that that’s a very good idea given our negotiations,” Landrieu said. “But until we get a score, nothing can be settled.”

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