A key Congressional committee sent a healthcare reform bill to the floor of the House of Representatives, just in time for its monthlong summer break, which would create a public health insurance plan to compete with private providers and ensure that about 95 percent of all Americans get health insurance, according to news reports
The House Energy & Commerce Committee passed the bill on a 31-28 vote that broke down largely along party lines, after a day of negotiations produced a compromise between more liberal representatives and the more conservative bloc of so-called “Blue Dog Democrats.”
The compromises included reducing the number of small businesses that would be required to provide insurance for employees or contribute up to 8 percent of payroll to fund their insurance; the liberal faction won a provision that would allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies.
The vote, at just after 9 p.m. July 31, came just before the House recessed for its August break. The Senate, where healthcare reform measures are also wending their way through the system, is due to recess August 7.
That means no legislation will hit President Barack Obama’s desk until the fall; Obama had hoped to push the reform effort through Congress before the summer breaks.
But whatever from the bill ultimately assumes, it will likely include health insurance “exchanges,” where individuals and employers could compare policies before buying insurance plans. The law is also likely to attempt to shift Medicare’s payment model from a per-procedure structure to one designed to reward quality healthcare.