August 2009: Government Affairs


August 2009

A Look at Healthcare

1-09_art_keelen_falenkiMatthew B. Keelen and Michael J. Falencki

With the stimulus package in process and climate change passing the House and being considered in the Senate, Congress – with mounting pressure from the Administration – turns its focus to comprehensive healthcare reform. In June alone, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee has reported a bill, and the House is expected to pass legislation before the August recess.

H.R. 3200, the America’s Affordable Health Choices Act, seeks to provide affordable healthcare for all Americans and control healthcare cost growth. Much of the current legislation focuses on expanding coverage and choice; affordability; shared responsibility; controlling costs; providing preventive services; and investing in the healthcare workforce.

The bill currently stands at 1,080 pages, before the relevant committees begin their mark-ups. So what does the bill mean for the businesses of the MCAA?

The bill would create a health insurance exchange, which would act as a marketplace for individuals and employers to shop for insurance. Along with private insurance plans, a new public health insurance option will be present. An essential benefit package, as determined by a new Advisory Committee, will serve as the baseline package for the minimum benefits that must be offered.

Medicare and Medicaid will be expanded, and affordability credits will be available for lower income individuals and families, so that every American can have health insurance. All Americans will be required to have health insurance, unless they have a hardship exemption. Otherwise, those who choose not to have insurance will pay a 2.5 percent penalty tax of modified adjusted gross income above a specified level.

All employers must either provide health insurance coverage or contribute funds on their behalf. Employers choosing to contribute will have to provide a contribution based on their payroll. Any businesses with payroll not exceeding $250,000 are exempt. The phased-in contribution begins with 2 percent above $250,000 payroll, and rises to 8 percent for businesses above $400,000 payroll.

American families earning between $350,000 and $500,000 will pay a surcharge of 1 percent to help pay for healthcare. A 1.5 percent surcharge is in place for family income between $500,000 and $1 million. If the projected healthcare savings are not obtained, then that surcharge will rise on a sliding scale.

The bill also would limit the amount of co-pays or deductibles, and enact a cap on annual healthcare spending by families. It prevents coverage being denied for pre-existing conditions, and coverage will include mental health services and other formerly optional coverage.

There is much controversy over the public option plan, as detractors argue that with caps on spending and mandated benefits, private insurers will reduce their coverage levels, and Americans may lose benefits. Also, a public plan may lead to government-run healthcare, as private insurers wouldn’t be able to compete with the federal government and may be forced to participate in the health exchange. Many questions about the rationing of healthcare also persist.

The House, and possibly the Senate, could pass healthcare reform legislation by the August recess. Many issues are likely to be debated, although amendments may not be made to the bill itself. We will continue to attend the hearings and keep the MCAA and Masonry readers apprised of any developments on this sweeping legislation.

Return to Table of Contents

Related Posts

  • 55
    February 2010 Government Affairs The 111th Congress: An Active Legislative Climate Matthew B. Keelen and Michael J. Falencki At the beginning of the 111th Congress, there was a massive shift toward pro-active legislating. Coming off the 2008 elections, Democrats enjoyed large majorities in the House, a filibuster-proof majority in the…
    Tags: health, reform, legislation, bill, house, senate, $, will, insurance, coverage
  • 45
    September 2009 Government Affairs Congressional Update Matthew B. Keelen  and Michael J. Falencki Throughout the month of August, Congressional members hosted “town hall” events to discuss the pending healthcare legislation. With the final committee in the House, the Committee on Energy & Commerce, approving its version of the legislation, the…
    Tags: bill, legislation, house, will, $, healthcare, senate, government, keelen, businesses
  • 36
    December 2010  Government Affairs The 111th Congress’ Last Breath Looking toward the 112th Congress and the future Matthew B. Keelen and Michael J. Falencki  As widely speculated, Republicans took control of the House of Representatives, picking up 61 seats, for a majority of 240-189. As of this writing, six House…
    Tags: will, senate, house, government, healthcare, reform, legislation
  • 34
    September 2012 Government Affairs ObamaCare’s Mandate Tax Won’t Make Health Care More Affordable By Congressman Tim Griffin, Ark. As President Obama prepared to push his unpopular health care bill through Congress, he was adamant: ObamaCare’s requirement that individuals purchase health insurance or pay a penalty was “absolutely not a tax…
    Tags: health, insurance, reform, government, will, house
  • 31
    January 2010 Government Affairs Why I Voted ‘No’ on Health Care Reform By Jason Altmire (D-Pa.) The need for health care reform is clear: The skyrocketing cost of health care threatens America’s financial future and our ability to effectively care for our citizens. When Congress set out to accomplish health…
    Tags: health, bill, reform


PumpMaster | Masonry Grout Pump for Core Filling | Block Fill | Masonry Wall Grouting

The AIRPLACO PumpMaster PG-30 is shown on a jobsite in Nashville, TN with Masonry Contractor WASCO, Inc. ...

Zachary Zuldema 1st Place (2nd Year) Winner Interview at the World of Concrete

Zachary Zuldema 1st Place (2nd Year) Winner Interview at the World of Concrete

Bill Dentinger 2015 Inductee MCAA Hall of Fame

Bill Dentinger 2015 Inductee MCAA Hall of Fame

John Smith, Jr.

John Smith, Jr. receives the 2015 MCAA C. DeWitt Brown Leadman Award

2015 MCAA Fastest Trowel On The Block Winner

2015 MCAA Fastest Trowel On The Block Winner

Daniel Furr 1st Place Winner

Daniel Furr 1st Place Winner (First Year), Masonry Skills Challenge

Synpro Products

Masonry Magazine Video News Interview: Michael Goyne

Hydro Mobile Inc

Interview with Kevin O'Shea of Hydro Mobile, Inc.

Interview with Mark Kemp – Chairman, MCAA

Interview with Masonry Contractors Association of America Chairman, Mark Kemp

Mortar Net Solutions

Interview with Steve Fechino from Mortar Net Solutions

Pullman Ermator

Interview with Lyndon Kelsey of Pullman Ermator

Keene Building Products

Interview with Jim O'Neill of Keene Building Products