It’s impossible not to read or hear that the Senate Finance Committee has approved the Baucus health care bill with a 14-9 vote. Senator Olympia Snowe (R. Maine) in a move that was widely expected, voted with the Democratic majority on the committee. The passage of this bill is viewed by many as a major step towards President Obama’s top priority of an overhaul of the health care system.
While the bill had Finance Committee support, a full Senate vote may not achieve the same results. As has been repeatedly publicized, the bill needs 60 votes and whether Senator Snowe will continue to vote with the Democratic majority is less certain. There has been concern voiced among other Senators, most notably Joe Lieberman (Ind. Ct). This legislation, however, represents a significant move by the Senate to works towards health care reform.
What does this mean for you? As we have said in previously alerts, nothing yet. Even if the Baucus bill passes the Senate, it will still need to go to committee with the House bill and the “horse trading” begins. At stake: the public option, a penalty tax to those who elect not to purchase health insurance, excise taxes on the cadillac health insurance plans, to name just a few. While health care reform is certainly moving along, it remains to be seen what the final legislation will look like.
As we continue through the open enrollment season at large employers, many employees are confused, and the more press about health reform, the more they are concerned that the decisions that they are making now will be impacted in some way. Not the case. There are more effective dates in these bills than in the free agency process in the NBA.
Individuals must still be vigilant in addressing future care for family members. While more preventative care will be a part of health reform, it will still be important that dependent needs be considered.
For additional information, contact us.