House Dems announce their healthcare bill

The legislation includes a public option, expands Medicare and imposes a tax on the wealthy


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Alex Koppelman
October 29, 2009 8:30PM (UTC)

The Senate has been getting all the attention during the debate over healthcare reform, but the House needs its day in the sun, too. That turned out to be Thursday, as House Democrats, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, unveiled their version of the legislation, which weighs in at almost 2,000 pages and has an estimated cost of $894 billion. (Despite the cost, it's still estimated to reduce the federal deficit by roughly $30 billion over 10 years.)

The bill does include a public option, though it's not as "robust" as House progressives wanted it to be. Considering the problems the public option has in the Senate, though, that might not end up being the most noteworthy part of the House's legislation. There are two other provisions in the bill that should get some attention. The first is one that would expand Medicaid eligibility to those earning up to 150 percent of the poverty level. The second is a tax on the wealthy -- individuals earning more than $500,000 and couples earning more than $1 million. That differs from the Senate bill, which taxes "Cadillac" insurance plans.

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Republican opposition, naturally, has begun in full force. As with the attacks on the Senate Finance Committee's bill, early criticism has focused on the length of the legislation -- part of a campaign aimed at convincing voters that Democrats haven't been transparent or forthcoming about what's in the bill.


Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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