In a gamble to revive health reform, President Obama has unveiled a new plan for overhauling the nation's health care system. He has challenged Republicans to counter with their own ideas, and is threatening to push through a bill with only Democratic votes if no bipartisan solution emerges from Thursday's televised health-care summit. (Watch a CBS report about Obama's new plan.) Republicans weren't impressed: Rep. John Boehner said Obama had lost credibility by simply proposing another version of "the same massive government takeover of health care" Americans had already rejected. Whichever side you take in this debate, here are five things you should know about the president's plan:
1. Covering the uninsured: The White House says Obama’s bill would extend coverage to 31 million people who are currently uninsured. The cost over 10 years would be an estimated $950 billion—more than the $872 billion the Senate proposes spending but less than the $1.05 trillion for the version the House passed last year.
2. Mandating health insurance: Like the bills the House and Senate approved last year, President Obama's plan would require almost everyone to be insured or pay a fine. The fines would be stiffer than those in the Senate version, but lower-income families would get greater tax credits to help them pay for their mandatory coverage.
3. Editing out 'political distractions': The "biggest political difference," says Ezra Klein in The Washington Post, is that President Obama's plan gets "rid of some of the distractions that were hurting the Senate bill," including a special tax break for labor unions and a deal helping Sen. Ben Nelson's state, Nebraska, pay for Medicaid extensions. Obama also added another element to the mix: a federal authority to crack down on insurance industry abuses and unfair rate increases.
4. No public option: Despite the fact that many Democrats still want to revive the public option, says Linda Feldmann in The Christian Science Monitor, Obama left out a proposal for a government-run insurance plan to compete with private insurers. "But his plan does set up an insurance marketplace, or 'exchange,' in which consumers can shop for coverage."
5. Higher taxes: To finance his changes, "President Obama proposes raising taxes even more than the Senate plan does," says Philip Klein in The American Spectator. Obama wants to hike the Medicare payroll tax for high-income workers by more than the Senate plan would, subject unearned income to an additional 2.9 percent tax, and "raise the proposed tax on drug makers by $10 billion, to a combined $33 billion over 10 years."
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