As widely reported in today's press, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) last night released the legislative language for "The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act." The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that provisions in the 2,074 page bill will cost $849 billion between 2010 and 2019. Below is a brief summary of key provisions of interest, followed by the latest information on the expected schedule for the Senate debate.
- Imposes Excise Tax on High-Cost Plans: Beginning in 2013, imposes a 40 percent excise tax on plans that exceed $23,000 for families and $8,500 for individuals [Note: The previous version set the excise tax threshold at $21,000 and $8,000, respectively.] Contributions to FSAs, HSAs, and MSAs would be included in determining the threshold for the excise tax.
- Caps Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs): Beginning January 1, 2011, caps contributions to FSAs at $2,500 with no indexing for future inflation.
- Requires Prescription to Receive Reimbursement for Drugs Under Account-Based Plans: Beginning January 1, 2011, requires individuals to obtain a prescription for drugs, including over the counter medicines, as a requirement for reimbursement. [Note: The previous version made this provision effective on January 1, 2010.]
- Establishes Small Business Cafeteria Plans: Beginning January 1, 2011, establishes simple cafeteria plans [Note: At first read, the language appears to mirror the language in the previous version of the bill and discussed in yesterday's conference call. We will send an update should we identify any changes from the Finance Committee-approved version].
SCHEDULE Tomorrow, Senator Reid is expected to begin the process to hold a procedural vote that would take place on Saturday. If Senator Reid obtains sixty votes, the Senate could debate the motion to proceed to the health care legislation for up to thirty hours bringing them into Sunday. Should the Senate adopt to motion to proceed, Senator Reid will offer the "Patient Protection and Affordable Care of 2009" as a substitute amendment to H.R. 3950, a "shell bill" that will serve as the legislative vehicle for the health care reform legislation. Some Republican Senators have expressed their intent to require a reading of the bill, which would likely take the Senate into Tuesday and at the conclusion of which, the Senate would recess for Thanksgiving. Upon return from the recess, the Senate floor debate would begin in earnest with the bill fully amendable.
Please note that the schedule is still very fluid. We will provide updates as additional information becomes available. Take Action! We strongly encourage you to voice your opinion on healthcare reform! Click here to locate and contact your State Represenative or Senator today!
The more support we gather, the greater chance we can change this legislation and continue to provide continued excellent service to our clients. We cannot forsee a plan that has absolutely no fiscal accountability.