More immediately, on the coverage front, starting next year the bill would prevent private insurers from denying coverage to individuals with pre-existing conditions. It would also prevent insurance companies from dropping individuals once they do become ill.
Those changes combined are expected to ensure coverage for 30 million more Americans who don't currently have it, meaning roughly 94% of the legal population would have coverage.
The bill also begins to change how providers are reimbursed. “This bill has very substantial reform to the delivery of healthcare in this country a move to paying for performance, paying for quality outcomes rather than procedures,” Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) said.
Still, a handful of centrist Democrats and at least one independent say they remain unsettled over issues as broad as abortion, immigration, affordability and more.
Hot-button issues like abortion and immigration also get addressed, though it's still unclear whether the bill will satisfy some of the more vocal critics of each. The bill gives HHS the authority to provide abortion coverage in the public option–though it would have to certify that no federal dollars are used.
Separately, private plans could offer abortion services, though again, federal dollars would have to first be segregated from premium dollars.
Undocumented immigrants, across the board, would be prevented from participating in an exchange.
The first of many procedural votes are expected are expected Saturday.
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