Saturday, October 3, 2009

Weekend Reform Summary

It’s Saturday night. At 2:15 AM Friday, Chairman Max Baucus wrapped up the Senate Finance proceedings, amendments et al, into one bundle.

He will write it up and sum it up this weekend and send it to a vote next week after the CBO estimates its costs and hopes they will not exceed $900 billion over the next 10 years, which the Senate promises to meet by heavily taxing individuals and corporations.

The bill will require most of us to buy insurance, subsidize those who can’t, and expand Medicaid to states, who say they can’t afford it. To pay the freight, the bill will cut $500 billion out of Medicare fraud and abuse and pay those doctors less who order too many tests and perform too many procedures. It will tax high cost insurance plans exceeding $21,000 in premiums and insurers, drug companies, medical device makers.

For those who choose not to buy insurance, the maximum penalty for a family will be $800. To ease pain on seniors, the bill will protect 11 million of them with Medicare Advantage benefits. It will provide $1 billion in tax credits for biotechnology innovations.

Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky says some Democrats are showing “queasiness” about the bill because " it takes a half a trillion out of Medicare over the next ten years and raises billions of dollars of individuals and corporations." The CBO will review the cost of the bill before the vote.

That’s all we know for now, folks, about the Federal Easter Bunny’s health bill. Stay tuned for reports on new upgrades and new taxes.

Richard L. Reece, MD, is writer, blogger, and health reform observor. His latest book, Obama, Doctors, and Health Reform (IUniverse,com, 2009) is available on,, and booksamillion doc. For information on speaking fees and arrangements, call 860-395-1501.

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