White House Health Care Reform Proposal

The White House health care reform bill, posted online at 10 a.m. today, is a modest policy proposal based on the senate bill. It frames a bold political gamble that the national summit the president is convening on Thursday will cut through the rabble-rousing rancor that has threatened to kill reform, by challenging the Republicans to consolidate and defend their own proposal in full view of the American public.

White House officials Dan Pfeiffer, Nancy Ann deParle, and Jason Furman gave an early view of the proposal described as the president's "opening bid" for debate at the health care summit on Thursday, Feb. 25. It is ready to go through a reconciliation process in the senate should Republicans choose to filibuster the bill.

Based on the Senate bill, it improves affordability provisions by offering greater support to low and middle income individuals and families for premiums and lowering liability for out of pocket expenses. (Premiums would be capped at 9.5% of adjusted gross income.) To pay for the improvements, it increases employer contributions from $750 to $2,000 a year per worker, cuts Medicare Advantage, and includes investment income in the Medicare tax.

It would cover 31 million of the 45 million uninsured.

The "special deal" for Nebraska's Medicaid program is eliminated, replaced by greater federal assistance to all states for the first four years of the program, from 2014 to 2018.

The excise tax on health plans begins on plans that cost $27,500 a year per family.

It adopts a proposal by Sens. Feinstein and Rockefeller to establish a national authority to control insurance premiums. But it also includes the Ssnate bill provision championed by Olympia Snowe to let insurance companies do business across state lines.

While the President supports a public option and included it in his original proposal, he did not add it on to this bill.

The senate provisions restricting coverage for abortions are unchanged.