Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., introduced the Senate’s version of the health care reform bill, which includes a new 5 percent tax on elective cosmetic surgery.
Reid unveiled the bill, which is expected to cost $848 billion, extend coverage to more than 94 percent of Americans and insure 31 million more of the uninsured.
“We can’t afford to overlook what this is really about,” he said. “More accurately, we can’t afford to overlook who this is all about.”
The cosmetic surgery tax, also known as the “botax,” is estimated to raise $5 billion over a decade. The bill also includes an increase in the Medicare payroll tax to 1.95 percent from 1.45 percent for couples earning more than $250,000 a year and individuals earning over $200,000. It also features a tax on high-end insurance plans, also known as “Cadillac” or “gold-plated” plans, that are worth $8,500 for individual taxpayers and $23,000 for families.
Reid’s bill includes significant differences from the version narrowly passed by the House earlier this month. The House version includes a 5.4 percent surtax on high-income taxpayers (see House Assembles $894 Billion Health Care Bill).
The two bills also take a different approach to restricting public funding for abortion, with Reid’s version setting up a “firewall” to segregate privately paid premiums from public subsidies.
Republicans expressed opposition to the bill. “After six weeks of drafting a bill behind closed doors, the Majority has produced a bill that increases premiums, raises taxes, and slashes Medicare by half a trillion dollars to create a new government program,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. “This is not what the American people want. I don’t believe they think this is reform. This is not the direction to take.”
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