Washington, D.C. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) today introduced the America’s Health Future Act, landmark health care reform legislation to lower costs and provide quality, affordable health care coverage. The Chairman’s Mark will make it easier for families and small businesses to buy health care coverage, ensure Americans can choose to keep the health care coverage they have if they like it and slow the growth of health care costs over time. It will bar insurance companies from discriminating against people based on health status, denying coverage because of pre-existing conditions, or imposing annual caps or lifetime limits on coverage. The bill would improve the way the health care system delivers care by improving efficiency, quality, and coordination. The $856 billion dollar package will not add to the federal deficit. The Finance Committee will meet to begin voting on the Chairman’s Mark next week.
“The cost of America’s broken health care system has stretched families, businesses and the economy too far for too long. For too many, quality, affordable health care is simply out of reach,” said Baucus. “This is a unique moment in history where we can finally reach an objective so many of us have sought for so long. The Finance Committee has carefully worked through the details of health care reform to ensure this package works for patients, for health care providers and for our economy. We worked to build a balanced, common-sense package that ensures quality, affordable coverage and doesn’t add a dime to the deficit. Now we can finally pass legislation that will rein in health care costs and deliver quality, affordable care to the American people.”
Provisions included in the legislation to ensure Americans have quality, affordable, health care coverage would:
- Create health care affordability tax credits to help low and middle income families purchase insurance in the private market;
- Provide tax credits for small businesses to help them offer insurance to their employees;
- Allow people who like the coverage they have today the choice to keep it;
- Reform the insurance market to end discrimination based on pre-existing conditions and health status;
- Eliminate yearly and lifetime limits on the amount of coverage plans provide;
- Create web-based insurance exchanges that would standardize health plan premiums and coverage information to make purchasing insurance easier;
- Give consumers the choice of non-profit, consumer owned and oriented plans (CO-OP);
- Standardize Medicaid coverage for everyone under 133 percent of the federal poverty level.
Provisions included in the legislation to improve the quality of care, increase efficiency within the health care system, and lower health care costs would: