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House Quietly Pushing for Their Bill?

January 6th, 2010, 04:01 am admin Leave a comment Go to comments

Via Jon Walker, here’s a handy list that Nancy Pelosi should keep in hand during the non-conference conference negotiations–the multiple reasons why the Senate’s bill is deficient compared to the House version. Jon provides this list:

  1. Weaker employer mandate
  1. Most regulations won’t apply to the large group market
  1. Lower minimum benefit requirements
  1. Large age rating
  1. Multiple state-based exchanges versus one national exchange
  1. Lack of a public option
  1. Later start date
  1. Does not repeal health insurance anti-trust exemption
  1. Smaller Medicaid expansion
  1. Does not increase payments to Medicaid primary care providers

Add to that the regressive “Chevy” tax on benefits and it’s a fairly comprehensive list, drawn from this memo [pdf] just released by House staff that details the differences between the two bills.

It’s entirely possible, as Brian Beutler suggests, that the very existence of this memo is a signal that the House “conferees” aren’t quite ready to roll over for the Senate version of the bill, particularly given the message with which the first page summary of similarities in the bill concludes:

However, especially on a topic as historic and sweeping as health reform, there are differences between the chambers that will need to be resolved.

The following eleven pages detail those differences. There are a few elements where the Senate bill is stronger, at least in terms of consumer protection. It maintains SCHIP, while the House sunsets it out with the start-up of the exchanges. It has better affordability credits for people between 250-400% of the federal poverty level. It has a good state innovations waiver provision (with waivers not available until 2017–a drawback) that could actually help spur some real reform among the progressive states.

If the House is going to capitulate on the public option (which Ben Nelson has almost certainly assured) and abortion (which Rosa DeLauro has almost certainly assured), then perhaps this is a signal that they’re already considering the possibility considered in David’s post that they’ll demand “demand a generous raft of such items as partial payment for the surrender forced on them by the hostage takers.”

To do so, of course, they might have to buck the White House, which is in just pass any damned bill mode, and is downplaying any differences between the bills.


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