Kennedy Health Care Plan Would Include Public Insurance Option

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., chairman of the Health Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, is “circulating the outlines of sweeping health-care legislation that would require every American to have insurance and would insist that employers contribute to workers’ coverage,” The Washington Post reports.  The proposal “closely resembles extensive changes enacted in the senator's home state three years ago,” and “adopts the most liberal approaches to health reform being discussed in Washington.”  The draft proposal includes a plan for a public option which would compete with private insurance offerings. It also “calls for opening Medicaid to those whose incomes are 500 percent of the federal poverty level, or $110,250 a year for a family of four.”

A “top administration official” told the Post that “the White House expects Kennedy to unveil his bill Monday” and a timetable released by Kennedy’s office would put Kennedy “ahead of several other Democratic leaders crafting health bills” (Connolly, 5/29).

Bloomberg adds that Kennedy’s plan “may go further than a proposal being drafted by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus,” who is still considering whether or not to include a public insurance option.   But Baucus spokeswoman Erin Shields said he is “confident they will be able to reach agreement on one package before it is considered by the full Senate this summer” (Litvan and Gaouette, 5/29).

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