The Washington Post is reporting this morning that Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) is circulating the outlines of sweeping health-care legislation that would require every American to have insurance and would mandate that employers contribute to workers’ coverage.
The newspaper noted that in many respects the plan being circulated adopts the most liberal approaches to health reform being discussed in Washington citing as an example the fact that the plan embraces a proposal to create a government-sponsored insurance program to compete directly with existing private insurance plans.
The draft summary, according to the Post, also calls for opening Medicaid to those whose incomes are 500 percent of the federal poverty level, or $110,250 a year for a family of four.
The post also reported that a top administration official said the White House expects Kennedy to unveil his bill Monday. A timetable released by Kennedy’s office calls for Democrats on the Senate health committee to meet Tuesday, with a bipartisan session scheduled for Friday. Committee markups could begin June 16.
If Kennedy keeps to that ambitious schedule, it would put him ahead of several other Democratic leaders crafting health bills.
Could this bill, with its proposed expansion of an already unsustainable entitlement program, just be a way of softening up the opposition for what appears to be a bit tamer bill that is expected to emerge from the Senate Finance Committee? In contrast to Kennedy’s bill, the legislation being crafted by Sen. Max Baucus (D – MT) will probably come across to lawmakers as a much easier to pass alternative.
With this activity going on in Washington next week, it should make for interesting discussion at the meeting of America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) scheduled to kick-off Tuesday in San Diego. I will be there and will be blogging about what I am hearing.