Reid Rolls Out Senate Health Bill for Sat. Showdown

Public option weaker than House's, abortion restriction less severe
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 19, 2009 6:43 AM CST
Updated Nov 19, 2009 7:40 AM CST
Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., speaks during a news conference on health care reform on Capitol Hill in Washington Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2009.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

(Newser) – Harry Reid rolled out the Senate’s combined health care reform bill last night, earning oohs and ahhs from fellow Democrats, particularly over the price tag, and setting the stage for a cloture vote Saturday. The bill would cost a svelte $849 billion over 10 years while reducing the deficit by $127 billion—the biggest reduction of any bill to date. Here’s the nitty gritty:

  • The bill would set up health insurance exchanges for the uninsured, including a national public option, which states could opt out of.

  • Though federal funds couldn’t be used to cover abortions, the bill requires that the exchange include at least one plan that covers abortion, and at least one that doesn’t.
  • The bill would be funded through a tax on “Cadillac” health plans, but Reid upped the value of the plans to be taxed to $8,500 for individuals and $23,000 for a family of four, with high-risk jobs like coal mining getting an exemption.
  • Those who don't buy insurance would be fined $95 in 2014, scaling up to $750 by 2016.