Obama Health Care Plan’s Price Tag Jumps to $950 Billion

Posted: 02/22/10

President Obama unveiled his plan for health care reform Monday morning, four days before the summit at which Republicans and Democrats are scheduled to sit down with the president to forge a bipartisan compromise on the matter.   The White House communications director, Dan Pfeiffer, said Monday that Obama’s proposal is intended to “bridge the gaps” between the different health-care-reform bills passed by the House and Senate last year, and represents the Democrats’ “opening bid” for the talks with Republicans this week.  “The president is coming to the meeting with an open mind; we hope the Republicans will come with an open mind, too,” Pfeiffer said.  The plan, which is posted on the White House’s Web site, keeps much of the health reform framework passed by Senate Democrats in December, including a mandate that requires individuals to purchase health insurance, a process for the federal government to subsidize people who cannot afford coverage, and taxes and fees to raise revenue to pay for those subsidies.   Like the Senate-passed bill, the president’s plan would create health insurance exchanges, where individual customers could shop for insurance, in some cases across state lines. A public insurance option is not in the president’s plan, although Pfeiffer said Obama “supports a public option.”  The new proposal does make some significant changes to the Senate bill. For example, it eliminates the “Cornhusker Kickback,” the provision negotiated by Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) to require the federal government to pay for his state’s portion of the costs for Medicaid expansion in the bill. Instead, the federal government will pay for 100 percent of the Medicaid increase for all states through 2018, and will cover a declining share after that.   read more

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