Status of Health Care

Now that the Democratic party has lost its majority hold in the Senate, what will happen to the Health Care plan.  Scott Brown’s victory in the state that has fought for health care under Senator Kennedy is perhaps a message to the Democratic that they need to get their act together.

The Republicans now have enough votees to block any measure in the chamber.

Administration officials and top congressional Democrats are reviewing a diminished range of options to pass a health care bill and salvage victory on President Obama’s top domestic priority.

Among the options under consideration is to draft a new, stripped-down version of the bill capable of passing both chambers.

A second option is having the House pass an identical version of the bill approved by the Senate in December. Doing so would allow the measure to proceed straight to Obama’s desk to be signed into law.

A number of House liberals, however, are pushing back hard against the idea of adopting the Senate plan without major changes. The more conservative Senate measure contains a number of provisions unpopular with progressives, including a 40 percent tax on high-end “Cadillac” health plans which would be imposed on the insurance companies that provide them.

New 2010 Laws

Here are some new laws going into effect in 2010:

1.  Increases employee withholdings, supplemental wage withholding, and wage stock options and bonuses. As part of California’s new state budget adopted in the summer of 2009, state income taxes withheld from paychecks will increase 10 percent. Employees’ individual annual income tax bills will not increase; the amount owed in taxes in April 2010 will be adjusted to reflect the withholding increase.

2.  The new Form I-9 for employment eligibility verification contains an updated list of acceptable documents employees must present upon hiring. The purpose of this form is to document that new employees – both citizen and noncitizen – are eligible to work in the United States. Within three days of hire, all employees must complete the form and provide documents that establish identity and employment authorization.

3. Federal legislation changed the definition of who is covered for “qualifying exigency” leave related to servicemembers. Part of the National Defense Authorization Act, this new definition also expands FMLA provisions pertaining to military caregiver leave. Both qualifying exigency and military caregiver leave now include time off to care for veterans under certain circumstances.

4. Code. All licensed hospitals are required to annually conduct a safety and security assessment. Under the new law, hospitals must review and update their security regulations to ensure that patients and workers do not become victims of violence.

No Cost Of Living Adjustment

Beginning in January 2010,  Seniors will not get a cost of living adjustment in their Social Security checks.  Normally, Seniors get a two to three percentage increase in benefits.  That might seem like much but with increasing medical cost rising each year that is going to hurt.

Social Security benefits are adjusted every year to keep up with inflation.  Adjustments are based on the Consumer Price Index for urban wage earners between the third quarter (July-September) of the previous year and the third quarter of the current year. The 2010 COLA will be based on a period marked by sharp drops in prices and deflation.

This will also be the case for the year 2011 as well unless Congress makes some changes.  Senior won’t see a modest increase until 2012.

Health Care Debate

The Senate will begin debating on the new health care bill.  60 voes will be needed to pass the bill.  But does the party have enough votes to get their through.  Some Decmocatics are already jumping ship.

One thing we can be sure off is that the Republician party is not going to help.  The bill includes $848 billion over 10 years to gradually expand coverage to most of those now uninsured.  It would bann such practices as denying coverage or charging higher premiums because of someone’s health.

The bill would help the self employed and small businesses.  Most people covered by big employers would gain more protections without major changes.  One exception would be those with high-cost insurance plan, whose premiums could rise as a result of a tax on insurers issue the coverage.

Hopefully this thing works out and we are able to get some kind of consesus so that we can arrive at the necessary 60 votes.  This will be a huge benefit to every one.