House Dems present tri-committee plan

HOUSE DEMS PRESENT TRI-COMMITTEE PLAN…. There’s been plenty of attention focused this week on the health care negotiations in the Senate, but let’s not forget there’s another chamber working on a reform package, too.

House Democrats released the outline of their health care reform bill Friday – a proposal that would create a public insurance option, expand Medicaid, and require employers to provide coverage or pay a tax.

The outline did not include details on how Democrats would pay for the plan.

It does provide the first look at how Democrats would structure a public insurance option — an idea favored by many in the party, but one in which the Senate has been struggling to find agreement.

The public option is more liberal than what senators are considering, and it is likely to draw fire from the American Medical Association because of the payment levels. It would pay Medicare rates during the ramp-up phase.

The proposal is the result of the combined efforts of three House committee chairs — George Miller (D-Calif.) on the Committee on Education and Labor, Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) on the Energy and Commerce Committee, and Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.) of the Ways and Means Committee.

Their work together on this is of particular interest, in part because of the recent past. Jonathan Cohn noted, “The fact that the three are producing language together is, itself, a pretty strong statement: In 1993 and 1994, committee infighting was a significant factor in the failure of reform. This time, everybody is on the same page.”

To pay for this, House Democrats are eyeing a possible V.A.T.

The committee chairs have posted a whole lot of information on the plan, including the bill text, a discussion draft summary, a piece on the public option, and a list of “12 ways health care reform will help you and your family.”

Update: Marc Ambinder has a good item on this, noting a key detail: “There’s an interesting trigger mechanism for a public plan; it would tie itself to Medicare’s provider rates for a few years, and then de-tether, meaning that, in essence, it would be very competitive early on but less so later, rewarding insurance companies who act quickly to match its efficiency.”