The “employer mandate” issue is one of the most controversial aspects of comprehensive health care reform, and yesterday the Senate Health Education Labor and Pension (HELP) Committee released two proposals that it sent to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) for cost scoring.

The proposal (which can be seen here) has two options.  The first would require employers to pay a flat amount for each employee that is not covered under the employer’s plan at an adequate level.  The fee would help offset the cost of credits for insurance provided through the bill’s health insurance exchange.  The second targets employers that can afford to provide coverage but chose not to do so.  The concept would be the federal government recouping the cost of providing Medicaid coverage for eligible employees.  Both plans would exempt “small business,” which is currently undefined.

Noticeably absent is a proposal that would tax a percentage of a company’s payroll, or the “pay or play model”.  The Bureau of National Affairs (BNA) quotes a Democratic aide as saying that while the pay or play proposal was sent to the CBO for scoring, it is no longer considered a viable option.

On the House side, the Energy and Commerce Committee will hold another hearing on the “Tri-Committee” comprehensive health care bill.  Associations testifying before the committee include America’s Health Insurance Plans, American Academy of Family Physicians, American College of Cardiology, American Health Care Association, American Nurses Association, Medical Association of Georgia, National Association of Community Health Centers, and National Association of Health Underwriters.

Quick Hits

Baucus proposes a scaled-back version (subscription) of the plan to limit charitable deduction… The Obama family will join five nonprofits today at Fort McNair as part of their United We Serve effort… The President held his health care town hall last night… Members of Congress invoke their own health care stories to color their position on the debate… Controversy over a Senate Commerce Committee report on insurers’ charges for out-of-network treatments.