Certain device manufacturers and clinical laboratories will get a reprieve, and lower- to middle-income families will have to pay less out of pocket under an amended version of a Senate health reform bill introduced this morning on Capitol Hill.
The bill, written by Senate Finance Committee Max Baucus (D-Mont.), lowers the maximum penalty for families at a certain income range who choose not to buy health coverage, increases a tax to 40% from 35% on high-value health plans and increases a fee on insurance companies to $6.7 billion per year from $6 billion.
The modified bill would exempt sales of Class II devices—such as extended-wear contact lenses and some hearing aids—that are sold at retail for up to $100 per unit, and exempt all Class I devices, such as bandages and gloves, from a tax on manufacturers. Still, the tax is expected to raise $29.9 billion over the next 10 years. Additionally, the amended bill also eliminates a clinical laboratory fee, replacing it with a temporary reduction in the Medicare laboratory test fee schedule.
“This modification incorporates important ideas from my colleagues on both sides of the aisle,” Baucus said in a written statement. “Crafting a bill that addresses all of the concerns of our broken healthcare system is no easy task, and I'm confidant that, working together, we are even closer to that goal today.”