A look at the health care overhaul bill

Associated Press | 3/24/2010, 6:59 a.m.

The proposal provides more generous tax credits for purchasing insurance than the original Senate bill did. The aid is available on a sliding scale for households making up to four times the federal poverty level, $88,200 for a family of four. Premiums for a family of four making $44,000 would be capped at around 6 percent of income.

How You Choose Your Health Insurance: Small businesses, the self-employed and the uninsured could pick a plan offered through new state-based purchasing pools called exchanges, opening for business in 2014. The exchanges would offer the same kind of purchasing power that employees of big companies benefit from. People working for medium-to-large firms would not see major changes. But if they lose their jobs or strike out on their own, they may be eligible for subsidized coverage through the exchange.

Government-Run Plan:
No government-run insurance plan. People purchasing coverage through the new insurance exchanges would have the option of signing up for national plans overseen by the federal office that manages the health plans available to members of Congress. Those plans would be private, but one would have to be nonprofit.

The proposal keeps the abortion provision in the Senate bill. Abortion opponents disagree on whether restrictions on taxpayer funding go far enough. The bill tries to maintain a strict separation between taxpayer dollars and private premiums that would pay for abortion coverage. No health plan would be required to cover abortion. In plans that do cover abortion, policyholders would have to pay for it separately, and that money would have to be kept in a separate account from taxpayer money. States could ban abortion coverage in plans offered through the exchange. Exceptions would be made for cases of rape, incest and danger to the life of the mother.

Student Loan Overhaul:
Requires the government to originate student loans, closing out a role for banks and other private lenders who charge a fee. The savings — projected to be more than $60 billion over a decade — are plowed into higher Pell Grants for needy college students and increased support for historically black colleges.

GOP Health care Summit Ideas:
Following the bipartisan health care summit, Obama announced he was open to incorporating Republican ideas in his legislation. But two of the principal ones — hiring investigators to pose as patients and search for fraud at hospitals and increasing spending for medical malpractice reform initiatives – didn’t make it into the bill released Thursday. Only one did, an increase in payments to primary care physicians under Medicaid, proposed by Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa).

Associated Press