“Senate Claus” Delivers a Health Care Bill—Including an Individual Mandate
The news swept through Washington like a snowstorm this weekend: A deal has been reached on a health care bill in the Senate. The current plan is for a vote on passage Christmas eve.
If it does pass, a House-Senate compromise bill will have to be worked out. That will happen next year.
Meanwhile, a new cost estimate for the Senate bill has come out. The new estimate says that H.R. 3590, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, would cost about $7,300 per U.S. family.
The bigger the bill, the more complex the cost estimate, of course. The Congressional Budget Office says this estimate covers:
Senate Amendment 2786 in the nature of a substitute to H.R. 3590 (as printed in the Congressional Record on November 19, 2009), incorporating the effects of changes proposed in the manager’s amendment released on December 19, 2009. This estimate does not include the effects of other amendments adopted during the Senate’s consideration of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; it also does not reflect an incremental effect on PPACA from Congressional action on H.R. 3326, the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2010, which was cleared on November 19, 2009.
OK. Whatever that is.
Roughly, this is a version of the bill released in the Senate with a major amendment produced by the Majority Leader, Senator Reid (D-NV). It doesn’t include other amendments added later, and it doesn’t include the effects of other recent law changes.
It also doesn’t cover what CBO calls “requirements regarding health insurance coverage that apply to the private sector.” That’s the individual mandate.
“The legislation would require individuals to obtain acceptable health insurance coverage, as defined in the legislation,” says CBO.
Requiring everyone to buy something is the same as taxing them and then spending the money—except that it doesn’t show up in cost estimates like this one. So keep that in mind.
We regret, of course, that we don’t have a perfect estimate of what the bill would cost you and your family, but hopefully this gives you an idea of what Senate Claus is delivering on Christmas eve.