Today Is Obama Care Speech Day

SIIA has updated the legislative process and the progress being made by Senator  Baucus in his committee.  Word is today that Olympia Snow (R) of Main is now on board with a compromise.  The Baucus plan in the end will probably drop the “Governmnet Run Option” to one of cooperatives which run as non profits in each state.  It’s still a Government ran insurance plan, which seems totally unecessary to me, but it may in the end be the compromise. 

The latest from Fox News this morning http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/09/09/obama-seeks-game-changer-health-speech/ has The President still expecting to push for the full “Government Option”.  I don’t believe public support is there for this, but we shall see.  One thing for sure, this President is staking his entire Presidency on Healthcare reform, and the way he wants it.   In my mind, for the Country to succeed, the President is going to have to fail at how he wants Healthcare reform.

Below is the latest from SIIA.

SIIA Legislative Update – Healthcare ReformSeptember 8, 2009  Information Disclaimer Note: Congressional developments regarding health care reform are fluid and SIIA lobbyists are continually meeting with Members of Congress, key staff members and other industry stakeholders, which generate ongoing intelligence.  In order to keep our members informed in “real time”, we will report relevant information as we become aware of it.  Given that the political process is inherently unpredictable, information communicated in previous reports may be superseded in subsequent reports.  Should you have any questions in between reports, please contact SIIA’s Washington, DC office directly at 202/463-8161.  Senate Finance Committee’s “Bipartisan Working Group” Develops Reform FrameworkFor months, a bipartisan group of Senate Finance Committee Members headed by Senator Baucus and Senator Grassley, Chairman and Ranking Member respectfully, have been working to reach an agreement on reform provisions that would satisfy both Democrats and Republicans.  Specifically, their efforts have been to produce a package that is relatively less expensive, limits government-regulation and preserves the employer-based and private marketplaces.   Official Committee movement was delayed as negotiations continued and the Congressional August Recess was spent with provisions being developed behind closed doors.   Senate Leadership has imposed a deadline of September 15 for the group to reach an agreement.   Early this morning, SIIA’s Government Relations Staff received an advance copy of the framework the Committee’s negotiators are working off of.  SIIA’s staff also learned that a formal agreement could be reached in the next few days.   Details of the framework are as follows:  No Government-Run Option – Instead, the establishment of cooperatives is proposed.  The “co-ops” would serve as non-profit, member-owned insurance companies and be allowed to operate in one or more States.  State-based “Health Insurance Exchanges” are also proposed, with tiered benefit levels and with separate Exchanges for individuals and small groups.   No Employer Mandate – Instead, employers that do not offer coverage with more than 50 full-time employees, would be required to pay would be required to pay a fee for every employee who receives a tax-credit for use in an Exchange.  Any employee that is offered coverage through their employer is ineligible for the tax credit for health insurance through the Exchange (unless coverage offered by their employer is more than 13% of an employee’s income).  Medicaid eligible employees may leave an employer’s plan, whereas the employer would not be required to pay a fee.   Individual Coverage Mandate – All citizens would be required to obtain health insurance (either purchased, provided by an employer/spouse’s employer, or through public program).  The penalty for non-compliance would be $750-idv/$1500-fml for taxpayers under 300% of FPL, $950-idv/$3800-fml for taxpayers above 300% FPL.   Insurance Market Reforms – Health insurance plans in the individual market would be required to offer coverage on a guaranteed basis and would be excluded from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions.  Plans would be prohibited from imposing lifetime limits and premium variance would be limited to certain criteria, with no variance being more than 7.5:1. Small Business Tax Credits – A sliding scale tax credit has been proposed for business with less than 25 employees and with less than an average wage of $40,000.   Excise Tax on High-Cost Coverage – An excise tax of 35% has been proposed on insurance companies and administrators (including self-insured plans) for any coverage above $8,000 for individuals and $21,000 for family plans.  The tax would apply to premiums above the threshold.  Employers would be required to disclose the value of coverage.    SIIA Urges the Self-Insurance Industry to Make our Message HeardSIIA urges all those in the self-insurance industry interested in preserving the way we do business and the benefits we provide to 75 million Americans covered by self-insured plans, to use the resources provided in SIIA’s Grassroots Toolkit and contact their Members of Congress to voice our message.  The threat to the self-insurance industry and the employer-based system under which we operate in has never been more significant.  Now is the time to voice our powerful and unified voice to politicians in Washington that we will not stand for any proposals that would cause significant damage to our industry and to those lives we cover.  SIIA’s Grassroots Toolkit can be found at www.siia.org/grassroots.  If you have any questions, or would like any further information, please contact SIIA’s Government Relations office. 

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