House Dems Unveil Health Care Plan

By Kate Barrett

Jun 19, 2009 3:55pm

ABC News' Z. Byron Wolf Reports: Senators aren’t the only ones drafting health care reform legislation. House Republicans unveiled their plan earlier this week. And today, House Democrats from three Committees proposed a “draft text” that looks similar to the version being considered in the Senate HELP Committee. At a press conference, Democrats in the House unveiling their own draft health care reform plan today sounded open to anything to get health care reform passed, but what’s in their draft does not look open to much at all. Rep. George Miller, who chairs the House Education and Labor Committee said “THIS year will be THE year… If there's one thing that is off the table it is saying no to health care reform,” Miller said. But in the House Democrats’ plan are the very things that, for Republicans, are non-starters: For starters, a public health insurance plan, an expansion of Medicare, and a mandate to make employers (as well as individuals) contribute to the health care of their employees. “Today health insurance for most American families is one big surprise. You go to use it and you find that it’s not what you think it is,” said Miller of the need for a public alternative to serve as a reliable counterweight to the market. “I think there's a lot of misinformation about public option. A lot of people think it’s going to be a government takeover,” said Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee. He said the insurance market is “dysfunctional” and only with a public option can there be a level playing field. “We want people to be able to choose their plan. Just like federal employees,” Waxman said. “One of the choices will be a public plan that will be on a level playing field. A choice. No mandate for anybody to be in it,” Waxman said. Several of the Democrats at today’s press conference said their plan was an “American” plan and that it fostered choice by allowing Americans to choose a public option as opposed to a private one. What remains to be seen is how much the House Democrats’ plan, which bears striking resemblance to the Senate plan offered in the Health Committee there by Democrats, would cost. Just one part of the Senate Health Committee version got a $1 trillion estimate over 10 years by the Congressional Budget Office even before the addition of a public insurance option and was predicted to leave tens of millions of Americans without insurance. Miller said the House version would cover up to 90 percent of Americans – a similar number. But Miller did not yet have a CBO estimate for how much the House Democrats’ bill would cost. The ranking Republican on Waxman’s Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. Joe Barton, who in March at a White House summit pledged to work toward bipartisan health care reform said what Democrats were proposing was not bipartisan and would not ultimately pass Congress. “Democrats didn’t include us,” said Rep. Joe Barton, R-Tex, shortly after the press conference where House Democrats announced their plan – it was the first he had seen of the plan too. “They didn’t want out input and had apparently a pre-conceived notion that they wanted to nationalize healthcare and spend trillions of dollars in this econ situation that we don’t have and um that created a bill that has very little chance to ultimately succeed.” See more of Barton’s interview with ABC News' Jon Karl on World News tonight. Text of the House Democrats’ draft can be read here.

A summary of the House Democrats' plan is here.

You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus