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October 31, 2005

House has released its health care bill

Here is the House health care bill (pdf).

A couple of highlights (I haven't read the whole thing yet):

  • Individual mandate is enforced by (1) a financial penalty of 50% of the smallest premium the individual would have been able to pay to maintain coverage, assessed either by reducing a tax refund or (if that's not enough) by an assessment from DOR; and (2) preventing driver's license renewal until the coverage issue is resolved.
  • Businesses with 11-99 employees must pay an assessment of 3% of their payroll to the state's new "Commonwealth Care Fund" beginning on July 1, 2006; for 100 or more employees, the rate is 5%.  These rates will rise to 4%/6%, and again to 5%/7%, at one-year intervals.  Health care-related expenses incurred by the employer, including "an amount equal to the employer's expense for employee health benefits, including health insurance, and contributions to employee health savings accounts," will be credited against the contribution (so that if these expenses exceed the assessments, no contribution will be required).

Much, much more to come.

Posted by David at 12:37 PM in Health Care, Massachusetts | Permalink

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Comments

Does the bill allow individuals who must purchase health insurance in the individual market deduct the cost of the plan from their income for state income tax purposes?

Posted by: Abby | Oct 31, 2005 1:08:47 PM

Health Care for All has some documents from the House at http://www.hcfama.org/act/.

Apparently, they're calling this the PATH bill.

Posted by: PatrickA | Oct 31, 2005 2:41:09 PM

Abby: a good question to which I don't know the answer. I didn't see anything in the bill suggesting that such a deduction would be available, but I might easily have missed it.

Posted by: David | Oct 31, 2005 4:26:39 PM

I didn't see it anywhere, although I only skimmed large portions of the bill. (It would be easier to follow if the laws on the books now were printed and struck through with the replacement language in regular print.)

I think that this is a major equity issue. Self-employed people can enter the small group market as a group of one, but individuals who aren't able to buy coverage from their work can't. (The Federal tax break is the bigger deal, but we can't do anything about that.) Making the insurance premium deductible ought to be a priority for HCFAMA.

Posted by: Abby | Oct 31, 2005 5:17:22 PM

This bill will destroy the competitiveness of small businesses in the state. Taxing companies like Wal-Mart is a good idea, taxing companies with around 10 people (like my family's) is not such a good idea. when businesses are about to get over 10 people, they will either stop growing or move to another state.

Not a good bill.

Posted by: Ken | Nov 1, 2005 3:17:46 PM

Ken, my father employs about 15 people, most of them with families. He also sponsors health insurance for them and their families as the cost of doing business. Who pays for your employee's health care?

Posted by: Brittain33 | Nov 2, 2005 11:04:52 AM

apparently I was wrong on two counts - my stepdad's company doesnt quite break the 10 person threshold (though through mergers it might within a few years), and we pay for everyone's insurance except for part-timers.

Posted by: Ken | Nov 6, 2005 12:09:59 PM

It is unfortunate to hear so many lack health insurance. We really need to improve our health care system. Health insurance is a major aspect to many and we should help everyone get covered. I hope the health care bill can help many to get health coverage.

Posted by: California Health Insurance | Nov 10, 2005 3:24:27 PM

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