Senate Committee Approves Health Care Reform Bill

By Staff Report

Jul. 15, 2009

A U.S. Senate committee Wednesday, July 15, approved comprehensive health care reform legislation along party lines, becoming the first congressional panel with jurisdiction on the issue to act.

Thirteen Democrats on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee voted in favor of the measure and 10 Republican members voted against it.

The bill shares elements of reform legislation unveiled Tuesday by House Democrats, including mandating that employers offer coverage meeting certain standards or pay an assessment, partially subsidizing big health insurance claims for employers that offer coverage to retirees before they are eligible for Medicare, providing premium subsidies for the low-income uninsured, and establishing state insurance exchanges through which individuals and employers could buy coverage from commercial insurers or a new public plan.

The coverage mandate would apply to employers with more than 25 employees. Employers would have to pay 60 percent of the premium, plans could not have annual or lifetime dollar limits, and coverage would have to be extended to employees’ adult children to age 26.

Employers not meeting these standards would have to pay an annual assessment of $750 for each full-time employee not covered and $375 for every part-time employee not covered.

However, in a slight modification of an earlier proposal, the assessment would start with the 26th employee not covered. If an employer had 26 employees and did not provide acceptable coverage, its assessment would be $750, not $19,500.

In addition, individuals not enrolled in a health care plan would be liable for an annual penalty of $750.

The Senate committee’s action came as three House panels prepared for Thursday consideration of reform legislation backed by House Democratic leaders.

The Senate Finance Committee, the other Senate panel with jurisdiction over health care, has not yet presented a bill. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Montana, committee chairman, has been working for months to develop bipartisan support for a reform measure.

President Barack Obama hailed the Senate health committee’s action and urged Congress to approve reform legislation quickly. The bill’s passage should “provide the urgency for both the House and Senate to finish their critical work on health reform before the August recess,” the president said in a statement.

Filed by Jerry Geisel of Business Insurance, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail

Workforce Management’s online news feed is now available via Twitter


blog workforce

We build robust scheduling & attendance software for businesses with 500+ frontline workers. With custom BI reporting and demand-driven scheduling, we help our customers reduce labor spend and increase profitability across their business. It's as simple as that.

Book a call
See the software

Related Articles

workforce blog


Exempt vs. non-exempt employees: knowing the difference

Summary Employees are exempt from FLSA requirements when they meet specific exemption criteria based on...

Department of Labor, exempt employees, Misclassification, non-exempt employees

workforce blog

Employee Engagement

12 practical employee appreciation ideas for better engagement and retention

Summary Showing appreciation to your employees improves engagement and retention. There are 12 practica...

employee appreciation, engagement, HR, raccoons

workforce blog


California fast food workers bill: why it’s more than meets the eye and how to prepare

Summary: California signs bill establishing a “fast food council” that has the power to raise the indus...