Health Care Bills Include Employer Mandates
The House Ways and Means Committee on July 16 concluded mark up on H.R. 3200, the America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009.
Ways and Means is one of three committees that has been moving separate portions of the larger House legislation, along with Energy and Commerce, and Education and Labor.
The House bill, funded by a graduated surtax on higher-income individuals and several smaller tax provisions, would penalize individuals who do not secure adequate coverage and employers who do not offer it. The bill would also offer a tax credit to small businesses to help cover the costs of providing coverage.
An amendment offered by Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) that would have removed the bill's tax-related revenues was defeated in a party line vote of 26 to 15. By a 25-to-five margin, the committee also defeated an amendment offered by Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas) that would have removed an 8% payroll tax on employers that fail to offer adequate health care coverage.
The panel approved the measure despite unanimous Republican opposition. Three Democrats also opposed the bill — Reps. Ron Kind (D-Wis.), Earl Pomeroy (D-N.D.) and John Tanner (D-Tenn.).
The legislation is likely to come to the House floor the week of July 27.
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee last week approved the Affordable Health Choices Act along a 13-to-10 party line vote.
The bill would require individuals to purchase a creditable insurance plan or pay a maximum fine of $750 per year. Exemptions would be made in areas where affordable coverage is unavailable and in instances where purchasing coverage would create a financial hardship.
The bill also includes a mandate for employers. Those who employ at least 25 workers would be required to provide health insurance to their workers and cover 60% of the premium costs, or pay the government an annual fee of $750 per full-time worker or $375 for part-time workers. Companies with fewer than 25 employees would be exempt.
Meanwhile, the Senate Finance Committee continued work last week on crafting a financing plan to pay for a health care overhaul. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said his panel would not unveil a bill before the week of July 20.
For a side-by-side comparison of the House and Senate legislation and their specific provisions to date, click here.
To read H.R. 3200, click here and enter the bill number in the box at the center of the page.
For more information, e-mail Erin Tario at NAHB, or call her at 800-368-5242 x8413.