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Health Care Reform Progress

by Brenda Peluso

As the US Congress heads home for the August Recess, health care reform is the number one issue.  The US House was making progress on a bill, but is waiting until after the August Recess to vote until the Senate Finance Committee’s bi-partisan effort at reform is released.  Senator Snowe is playing a key role on the Finance Committee and Representative Pingree has joined a group of progressive House members in supporting a public health insurance option.

As the members of the Senate Finance Committee exited their latest negotiating session, they reported making progress in the following areas:

  • Paying for health reform through a proposal to impose a new excise tax on health insurance companies that sell policies worth much more than the national average of $5,000 per individual plan & $13,000 per family plan.
  • Incentivizing, not mandating, employer coverage by requiring employers who do not offer insurance coverage to fund the full cost of low to moderate income employee government subsidies to purchase their own health insurance.

According to the New York Times, “With the Senate situation in flux, House members were growing increasingly wary about taking a pre-recess vote on a health plan with a hefty surtax on the affluent if it was not going to see the light of day in the Senate.”

What is the interest of your nonprofit in the health care debate?  We are emphasizing to our US Congress Persons that nonprofits employ one in eight Maine workers and provide health care benefits at a higher rate than their for-profit counter parts.  When they are considering any public policy that incentivizes small businesses to continue providing health care coverage – please remember that nonprofits are a large portion of the Maine small business scene and cannot take advantage of tax credits.

Nonprofits are not only significant employers, they are also primary members of the health care delivery system in the state.  What other points should MANP be making to our US delegation to ensure the best possible solution is made for our employees and constituents?  Let us know your thoughts.

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