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Statement of Robert Greenstein, Executive Director, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, on The Senate Finance Committee's Health Reform Plan
Date:10/13/2009

WASHINGTON, Oct. 13 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Senate Finance Committee's approval of an ambitious health reform plan marks a major step toward enactment of legislation to extend health care to tens of millions of people who lack it, strengthen insurance protections for millions more who are underinsured or face exorbitant charges, and begin to address the nation's most serious fiscal threat -- the relentless rise in health care costs.

The Congressional Budget Office has reported that the bill would modestly reduce the budget deficit both over the next ten years and beyond. This is a fiscally responsible bill that would redirect federal spending and tax subsidies from less productive uses elsewhere in the health care sector. (Read: http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=2920)

While the committee package represents a vast improvement over the current health insurance system, it has some serious shortcomings that likely would limit its effectiveness in certain areas. Because the health reform bills approved by the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee and three House committees are stronger in those areas, policymakers should blend the best provisions from these bills as they move forward.

Of particular concern are Finance Committee provisions that provide tax credits to help low- and moderate-income households purchase insurance. Under the plan that Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus initially unveiled in mid-September, those tax credits would not have been sufficient to make insurance affordable for many people of modest means. To his credit, Chairman Max Baucus later strengthened those tax credits significantly. But they need further improvement, as many people of modest means likely would still face costs that would be difficult to meet. For most households with incomes between 133 percent and 200 pe
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SOURCE Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
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