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Both the House and the Senate bills have affordability problems for people who don't get coverage through work.
Low- and moderate-income families can’t afford the Senate bill: For example, a family of 3 that earns $41,000 a year will pay an average of $7,000 a year for health care, or 17% of their income, under the Senate bill, an average obligation that is $2,134 more than under the House bill. And that family could pay a maximum of $9,000 a year on health care, $2,175 more than under the House bill.
Middle-income families can’t afford the House bill: For example, a family of 3 that earns $70,500 a year will pay an average of $12,166 a year, or 17% of their income, under the House bill, an average obligation that is $1,339 more than under the Senate bill. They could pay a maximum of $18,250 a year, $3,419 more than under the Senate bill.
Low and middle income families must be able to afford health insurance if they do not get it through work, and employers must be asked to provide good health coverage for their employees so health care is affordable at work.
The final bill should ask employers to pitch in and share responsibility for full and part-time workers, and should make health care affordable for all incomes. And the final bill should eliminate the tax on health benefits, which President Obama campaigned against. Instead, the wealthiest in society who can afford to help should pitch in their fair share to pay for reform.
There are big problems with the Senate bill for workers:
The House uses a different approach, requiring all but the smallest employers to either provide good insurance to their employees or pay 8% of payroll. Why is the House approach better?
The House approach is the most equitable way to achieve true shared responsibility.
The Senate bill pays for reform by taxing middle class health benefits.
The Senate benefits tax is not a “Cadillac” tax. It would adversely impact tens of millions of middle-class families and one-third of all insurance plans, resulting in benefit cuts, increased premiums and out-of-pocket costs, and lower wages.
There is another way. In the House, they pay for reform with a surtax on the richest families in the country. In this way, those that can most afford it in society pay their fair share for reform
The Senate bill falls far short of holding insurance companies accountable, reigning in their costs, and preventing them from denying care.
Insurance companies must be held accountable with strong regulations and consumer protections, and we must be given the choice of a national public health insurance option available on day one. The House bill gives us that choice.
Without accountability, the Senate bill will not protect us from the insurance company abuses that have plagued this country.
The final bill needs tough regulations and real choices, to give the American people what they want and need.