The Affordable Health Care for America Act

THE AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE FOR AMERICA ACT…. As promised, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) unveiled the House health care reform bill this morning at an event on Capitol Hill. The legislation, a combination of similar bills passed over the summer by three House committees, is now called The Affordable Health Care for America Act.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) unveiled a health-care reform bill Thursday that includes a government insurance option and a historic expansion of Medicaid, although sticking points in the legislation involving abortion and immigration remain unresolved. […]

“Today we are about to deliver on the promise of making affordable, quality health care available for all Americans,” Pelosi said, describing a bill that she said would insure 36 million more Americans. “…We are putting forth a bill that reflects our best values and addresses our greatest challenges.”

The House legislation aims to provide health insurance of one form or another to 96 percent of all Americans at an expected cost just below $900 billion over 10 years, without increasing the federal budget deficit for at least 20 years, House Democrats said. “It opens the doors to quality medical care for those who were shut out of the system for far too long,” Pelosi said.

One of the big questions surrounding the bill as it was being crafted was, of course, about the public option. The leadership’s goal was to have “Medicare +5” legislation, which would reimburse medical providers at government rates. Over the last week or so, it became apparent that there simply weren’t enough votes for this approach to garner a House majority. Instead, the Democratic plan will have a public option with negotiated rates (the “level playing field” compromise pushed in the Senate by Chuck Schumer).

The larger bill has several other elements of note, including expanding Medicaid eligibility to 150% of the poverty line, and strong employer and individual mandates.

In terms of financing, House Dems would paid for the bill with a surtax on high-income people, applied to couples with incomes exceeding $1 million a year and individuals over $500,000 (the top 0.3% of the country).

According to materials distributed by the Speaker’s office, the overall price tag of the House bill is $894 billion over 10 years — below the $900 ceiling recommended by the White House — none of which would be added the deficit. Indeed, preliminary results from the Congressional Budget Office suggest the House reform bill would cut the deficit by about $30 billion in the first decade. What’s more, coverage would extend to 96% of the population.

Moving forward, House leaders hope to have the bill on the House floor next week, with a vote, if all goes well, before Veterans Day, Nov. 11.

For more policy details, I found these materials put together by the House Committee on Education and Labor helpful.

Update: The entire legislation is now online (pdf).