In what the NAHB is calling a “Saturday Night Showdown,” the U.S. Senate is scheduled to vote on the latest proposal for overhauling the delivery of the nation’s health care.
Proposed by Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the bill would allow for health coverage for 94% of eligible Americans, provide a public health insurance option for those not covered by an employer plan, and prohibit insurance companies from refusing to cover people because of pre-existing health issues.
The bill, estimated to cost $848 billion over 10 years, would also fine Americans who refuse to carry health insurance, tax those who have particularly generous health plans, and raise Medicare payroll taxes (by 0.5%, to a total of 1.95%) on affluent Americans. (Click here for more information on the Senate plan.)
The NAHB has not yet stated its opinion on the Senate plan, which was proposed by Senator Reid just this week, but it is on record opposing the House of Representatives’ health care reform bill.
In the Nov. 9 version of the Nation’s Building News, the association said it was “specifically opposed to the broad employer mandate imposed by the bill as the vehicle to provide health insurance or universal coverage to all employees. The letter [sent to House representatives by the NAHB] stated that the employer mandate and minimum benefit requirements stipulated in the legislation would remove “the flexibility for employers to provide health plans that best fit the needs of their workforce."
The NAHB also noted that it has “significant concerns with the surtax on taxpayers with adjusted gross incomes of $500,000 for single taxpayers and $1 million for joint filers” in the House bill, which also would change the tax-related treatments of S corporations and other common business structures used by builders.
As many proposals have been floated for remodeling the nation’s health care system, there is still much work to be done. Assuming Senator Reid’s bill is approved Saturday night, the package will move to the Senate floor for debates and amendments. If the bill passes the floor, then members of the House and the Senate will be responsible for ironing out a final version of the reform legislation that both sides of Congress must approve.
Only then will it move to the White House, where it must be signed by President Barack Obama to become law.
Alison Rice is senior editor, online, at BUILDER magazine.