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Health Reform Update: The Healthy Americans Act

April 13th, 2009 – Senators Robert Bennett (Republican, Utah) and Ron Wyden (Democrat, Oregon) have been working on a bi-partisan plan to provide universal health care for Americans. What makes The Healthy Americans Act so interesting is that they worked hard to come up with a compromise that would meet the main objectives of both parties.

“After decades of debate, our effort is proof that Democrats and Republicans are not only capable of putting partisanship aside, they are ready to work together to finally create a health care system that works for all Americans,” said Wyden. “We look forward to working closely with Chairmen Baucus and Kennedy as well as Republican ranking members Grassley and Enzi to bring the Senate together to finally enact meaningful health reform.”

The Healthy Americans Act would require that everyone in America have health insurance coverage and would provide government assistance to many that need help affording health insurance.  These plans would be offered by private insurance companies and indviduals would own their own polcies rather than getting them through employers.  This would ease the hassles of having to change coverage every time someone changes jobs.

Employers that wish to help employees would be able to give their employees tax free dollars the employees can use to purchase individual heallth insurance plans.  Employers that don’t help employees with their health insurance would pay a fee for each employee to help fund the federal subsidies for those below 400% of the federal poverty level.

The mandate for health insurance coverage would apply to all except for those on Medicare or in the military.  Families below the poverty line would have the full cost of their policies paid for by the government.   Subsidies would be provided on a graduated basis for those above the poverty line, but phased out for those with incomes above 400% of the federal poverty level.

The Healthy Americans Act requires that insurance companies cover every individual who chooses to enroll and that they be prohibited from raising prices or denying coverage if individuals are sick or are at risk of becoming sick. Previous and existing health problems, occupation, genetic information, gender and age could not be used to determine eligibility or the price paid for insurance.

Health reform legislation is expected to be completed by as early as late 2009.

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