On the Capitol's west front Thursday morning, the House Democratic leadership unveiled the 1,990-page "Affordable Health Care for America Act" (HR 3962)—the bill representing the reconciled version of the healthcare reform legislation that will be going to the House floor next week.
"We are putting forth a bill that reflects our best values and addresses our greatest challenges," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who added that under the bill, 96% of Americans will be covered at a cost just under $900 billion over 10 years.
As requested, the bill is being made available "online for all to see" for at least 72 hours prior to being introduced in the House, she said. The bill melds together the three versions of HR 3200 approved by the Energy and Commerce, Ways and Means, and Education and Labor committees this past summer.
Among the bill's features are:
- A public health insurance option that shall only be made available through a health insurance exchange.
- Healthcare providers (including physicians and hospitals) participating in Medicare will be considered participating providers in the public health insurance option unless they opt out in a process established by the Health and Human Services Secretary.
- The maximum cost sharing with respect to an individual (or family) for a year shall not exceed $5,000 for an individual (or $10,000 for a family).
- Medicaid eligibility will be raised to levels 150% of the federal poverty level for all adults.
- No preexisting condition exclusion period will be imposed on coverage under the program.
- Insurers may not impose an aggregate dollar lifetime limit or cap with respect to benefits payable under a plan.
- Children up to age 27 can be included under a parent's insurance policy.
Janice Simmons is a senior editor and Washington, DC, correspondent for HealthLeaders Media Online. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org