Thursday, November 10, 2011

Health Provisions in This Afternoon’s Votes on Jobs Package

A quick reminder/update to staff about the health care provisions to be voted on as part of the vote series beginning circa 2 PM.  H.R. 674, the three-percent withholding bill, has as its primary pay-for provisions including Social Security benefits in the definition of income with respect to Obamacare’s new subsidy regime (a provision unchanged by the Reid amendment filed earlier this week).  The change would have the effect of reducing the number of early retirees eligible for Medicaid benefits, and lowering the amount of subsidies received by other early retirees, as their Social Security retirement benefits would now be counted as income when determining their eligibility for taxpayer-funded health benefits.  A CBO score of this provision, which was added to H.R. 674 in the House, can be found here, and an AP article explaining the issue can be found here.

In addition, the McCain amendment (i.e., the Republican jobs alternative) to H.R. 674 includes two health related provisions.  The first would repeal Obamacare, including the changes made to the health care law under reconciliation. (The bill would NOT repeal the student loan provisions included in last year’s reconciliation measure.)  Text is identical to H.R. 2, on which the Senate voted earlier this year.  The second provision is medical liability reform, including limits on punitive and non-economic damages, restrictions on attorney contingency fees, time limits on filing suits, and related provisions.  This legislative language echoes H.R. 5, the most recent CBO cost estimate of which can be found here.