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Current State of Health Care Reform 101

November 13, 2009

The House of Representatives recently passed their version of the health care reform bill.  In order to understand the effect the Stupak Amendment has on abortion rights, it is important to understand the House’s version of reform. 

The House’s Health Care bill would create an “exchange”: the exchange is basically a marketplace where health insurance policies, both public and private, can be sold.  The purpose of the exchange is to provide affordable health coverage to the majority of currently uninsured Americans (36 of the 46 million uninsured Americans would be eligible for federal subsidies) as well as the millions of Americans who are self-employed or have small businesses with 100 or fewer employees.  Individuals with incomes up to 400x the federal poverty level (roughly $88,000/year for a family of four) would be eligible for subsidies on a sliding scale that would go towards private plans.  Those making more than $88,000/year would not be eligible for subsidies.  Because of the Stupak Amendment, all women who fall into these categories are in danger of losing coverage for abortion that they have in their current private insurance plans, since 80% of private plans cover abortion. 

The next step is for the Senate to pass their version of the bill.  Once the Senate version has passed, the two bills will go into the conference process, where the differences between the two will be resolved.  The final version of the bill will then be voted on by both the House and the Senate.  So, the bill has a long way to go and there are going to be many opportunities to change its contents.

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