The Play-by-Play on Health Care

Baucus' bill, proposed after weeks of closed-door negotiations with both party members, is the latest to add fuel to the already fiery debate on health care. Despite bipartisan negotiations, committee members have yet to jump on board to Baucus' proposal, and more changes are likely to be made before they do sign.

The bill is expected to cost $856 billion over the next 10 years. It is the bill that comes closest to what Obama called for in his address to Congress last week, and was put together after weeks of closed-door meetings with a group of Republican and Democratic senators in the finance committee.

Under the plan, all Americans would be required to hold health insurance and would pay a penalty if they do not -- up to $950 for individuals and $3,800 for families.

It would also impose a 35 percent excise tax on premiums for plans costing more than $8,000 for individuals and $21,000 for families.

The plan encourages health care cooperatives, which are member-owned, non-profit companies that compete with private insurance providers.

It also bars insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions, and charging people with more serious health problems higher payments, although there is flexibility to that rule.

Baucus is also suggesting a Web-based insurance exchange system, by which Americans would be able to compare and purchase their plans on the Internet.

The bill would expand Medicaid benefits, allowing more people to become eligible. Baucus' plan would make all parents, children, pregnant women and childless adults at or below 133 percent of the federal poverty level eligible for Medicaid. It also includes provisions to help those with household incomes of less than $66,000 to buy insurance.

Illegal immigrants and abortions -- two points of contention for some Republicans -- would not be covered under the bill.

Senate HELP Bill:

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee's bill, passed on July 15 on a 13-10 party-line vote, boasts a price tag of $615 billion over 10 years.

Like the Baucus bill, it requires everyone to carry health insurance, and individuals will face a hefty fine if they don't comply. Employers who don't provide coverage to their workers will pay a penalty of $750 a year for each full-time worker. Companies with 25 or fewer workers are exempted.

This committee's bill does include a "public option," a government-run insurance program that would compete with private insurers. The idea was proposed by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, who said his vision was to see all Americans receive affordable and accessible health care.

The plan prevents insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions, and also prevents them from placing annual or lifetime limits on coverage.

The plan would also create a voluntary insurance program, under which the government would provide some cash to help disabled people stay in their own homes instead of transferring to nursing homes. It also includes subsidies and financial assistance for low income families to help them purchase health insurance.

House Democratic Bill:

The key feature of the House Democrats' bill is the option for a government-run insurance plan. Many Democratic lawmakers say they will not sign any bill unless that provision is included in some form.

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