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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

rcent of the poverty line, the premium costs for insurance purchased in the new health insurance exchanges would be two to four times higher under the Finance Committee bill than under the Senate HELP Committee bill or the House bill, as a new Center on Budget and Policy Priorities' analysis explains. (Read: http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=2922)

Compared to those other bills, the Finance Committee plan also provides less comprehensive benefit packages for low- and moderate-income individuals and families that would result in higher charges for deductibles and co-payments. This is another area where the bill merits improvement. (Read: http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=2949)

President Obama has set a $900 billion limit on the gross cost of coverage expansions in a health reform bill - that is, the cost before accounting for measures to finance those expansions. The other House and Senate bills effectively exceed that limit. CBO's preliminary cost analysis of the Finance Committee plan indicates that the gross cost of its coverage expansions is $829 billion. Thus, there is room to improve the bill in these areas without running afoul of the President's limit.

The Finance Committee's "free rider" provision also remains highly problematic; in fact, the Committee made the provision somewhat worse. This provision would require employers who do not offer health coverage to pay large amounts for low- or moderate-income employees who receive tax credits to purchase coverage in the health insurance "exchanges" -- but not to pay anything for employees who do not get the tax credits. An employer could be charged $4,000 or more for each full-time employee from a low- or moderate-income family who receives a tax credit to purchase coverage. (The e
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SOURCE Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
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