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Congress’ Plan Status



Health Reform Timeline and Content Released
Copy of the complete ASA article including the calendar
Items in [brackets] were added
May 29, 2009

Important information about the content and timeline for consideration of congressional health system reform efforts has been leaked from the key health care committees.

In the U.S. Senate, information has been obtained from the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee that suggests that the committee’s reform legislation will include at least the following components:

  • Public Plan Option based upon Medicare payment levels with a requirement that providers participate
  • Expansion of Medicaid eligibility [higher taxes **]
  • Expansion of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to eligible individuals up to the age of 26 [higher taxes **]
  • Individual Mandate [higher profits to health insurance companies]
  • Employer Mandate [higher profits to health insurance companies]
  • Creation of a State-based “Exchange” clearinghouses where insurance could be purchased [higher taxes **]
  • [Possible missing item from this list, unless they decided to leave it out: increased government regulation of health insurance companies, such as having the insurance companies accept anyone … higher taxes]

The timeline accompanying this information provides for briefings on the reform proposal for Committee members and staff during the first two weeks of June, followed by committee hearings on the legislation. Actual committee consideration of the legislation would take place during the weeks of June 15th and 22nd. If passed by the committees, full U.S. Senate consideration could be expected following the July 4th Congressional recess. Consideration would be expected to conclude by the end of July just prior to the traditional August recess.

In the House of Representatives, no specific information is yet available regarding the content of their plan. However, information obtained from the key health care committees suggests a summer timeline for advancing the House version of reform legislation.

A single House reform bill is expected to be publicly released the week of June 15th. The bill would be referred for consideration to the two key health care committees – House Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce Committees. The bill would also be referred to the Education and Labor Committee, a committee that has jurisdiction over certain narrow insurance related issues including Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) issues. The Committees would hold hearings during the weeks of June 22nd and July 6th with actual committee consideration the week of July 13th. According to the timeline, if passed by the Committees, the bill would be placed before the full House of Representatives the week of July 27th.

The available information does not project activity beyond full House and Senate consideration of the reform legislation. However, if both the House and Senate pass bills consistent with the timelines indicated, leaders of both bodies would be expected to meet in a conference committee to reconcile their different versions. It is possible that such meetings would take place during the August congressional recess. If the two different versions could be reconciled, both the House and the Senate would attempt to pass the new final version of the bill in September. If passed, the bill would be sent to the President for his signature.

ASA will continue to monitor development with regard to content and timeline for reform and make information available at http://www.asahq.org/Washington/healthcarereform.htm.


Tentative Dates

Possible Action

June 1-12

Senate HELP Committee briefings and hearings
June 15-22

HELP Committee consideration of reform legislation
June 15-19

Public release of House health reform legislation
June 22-July 10

House Committee hearings
July 13-17

House Committee consideration of reform legislation
July 6-August 1

Full Senate consideration of health reform legislation
July 27-31

Full Senate consideration of health reform legislation
August Congressional Recess

Conference Committee meetings
September

Final passage in House
Final passage in Senate
Signed by President

Additional Information

** Higher taxes due to higher government spending via the expansion of government

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