Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) has introduced the America's Healthy Future Act of 2009. It is scheduled for a full Committee markup on September 22, where Democrats hope to obtain more Republican support.
The bill offers initiatives that will help all Americans meet the requirement of having health coverage, such as the expansion of Medicaid and the creation of state co-operatives to provide consumers with options outside of private insurers. Employers would not be required to provide coverage to workers; however, employers who have 50 or more workers and do not offer coverage by 2013 will have to reimburse the government for every full-time worker receiving tax benefits through the government's health care exchange system.
The $856 billion to fund coverage will be obtained through initiatives such as reductions in Medicare and Medicaid spending; taxes on insurers offering high-cost, high-premium health plans; and fees on providers such as device manufacturers.
The bill overs various changes to the Medicare and Medicaid systems that are intended to increase efficiency, lower costs, and maintain a level of quality and care.
Health Care Quality Improvements
The bill directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to create a national strategic plan for improving the quality of care. The strategy will focus on goals such as reducing medical errors, maintaining hospital infection-control, addressing preventable hospital admissions, and an overall look at increasing efficiency and quality in the healthcare system.
In order to prioritize these strategies, the Secretary of HHS will seek the input of various stakeholders in the healthcare system including representatives of hospitals, physicians, credentialing and accrediting bodies, allied health professions, health plans, and other industries.
A copy of the Chairman's mark-up can be found here: