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House Democrats Unveil Draft Health Care Reform Bill

The lawmakers say the plan would extend coverage to 95 percent of the uninsured in the U.S.

“Today marks a historic moment in America’s urgent quest to fix our broken health insurance system,” said Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., who chairs the education and labor committee.

The bill was released at a news conference with the chairs of the three committees that drafted it — Miller, Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., chair of the Ways and Means Committee and Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee.

Listen to the full press conference here:

The Democrats’ plan would include sliding-scale subsidies for families making up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level to purchase health care through a government-run exchange that would offer both private and public options.

The public option has emerged as one of the most contentious issues in the health care reform debate, with most Republican lawmakers and other stakeholders, such as the American Medical Association, opposed to it.

The plan would also require employers to provide health insurance for their employees, or pay a tax equal to 8 percent of their payroll.

The bill did not include a cost estimate or a specific plan to pay for the proposal. Waxman said that it would be paid for by cutting Medicare and Medicaid spending and reducing other health care costs.

In the past week, cost has emerged as one of the most significant barriers to health care reform.

Two committees in the Senate are also preparing health care reform bills, and this week the Senate Finance Committee postponed a markup session on its proposed bill after the Congressional Budget Office estimated the cost at $1.6 trillion.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said at a press conference Thursday that the House will find a way to pay for its health care legislation.

“First of all, the health care bill will be paid for. Second of all, we have to reduce cost,” Pelosi said, according to Bloomberg News.

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