What: All Issues : Corporate Subsidies : Insurance Industry : A vote on a Republican-drafted resolution allowing for consideration of three health-care related bills (HR4279, HR4280, HR4281), including a bill that Democrats said would create a tax shelter for "the healthy and wealthy" to preserve tax free health care spending accounts, and in so doing add billions to the deficit over a decade.
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A vote on a Republican-drafted resolution allowing for consideration of three health-care related bills (HR4279, HR4280, HR4281), including a bill that Democrats said would create a tax shelter for "the healthy and wealthy" to preserve tax free health care spending accounts, and in so doing add billions to the deficit over a decade.
house Roll Call 158     May 12, 2004
Y = Conservative
N = Progressive
Winning Side:
Conservative

Conservatives put their support behind this Republican-drafted resolution allowing for consideration of three health-care related bills (HR4279, HR4280, HR4281), including a bill that would: allow up to $500 of unused funds in a flexible spending account (FSA) to be rolled over to the following year's FSA or transferred to a health savings account; a bill that would cap the awards in medical malpractice cases; and a bill that would allow the creation of association health plans for small companies. FSAs are tax-exempt funds that individuals who obtain healthcare through an employer can earmark for healthcare expenses. Under current law, any extra money in a FSA at the end of the year goes back to the employer, but under HR4279 the FSA holder could retain up to $500 of any leftover money in that fund - tax free. Progressives charged that the underlying goal of conservatives backing this bill is to dismantle the employer-based health insurance system, by encouraging a system where people set aside their own money for healthcare in these special tax deductible savings accounts. The Republican-drafted resolution specified that if more than one of these three healthcare bills were to pass the House, the text of those bills will be combined into one measure. Progressives opposed the resolution on the grounds that the three healthcare bills in question were unfair, especially the one relating to FSAs, which progressives charged would create a tax shelter for "the healthy and wealthy" to preserve tax free health care spending accounts, and in so doing add billions to the deficit over a decade. The $500 of non-taxable money that will be placed in these accounts will rob the federal government of $8 billion in federal revenue over 10 years, progressives stated. Conservatives argued that the measures would make healthcare more widely available and easier for small businesses to provide to their employees. The resolution was adopted 224-203, with all Republicans voting in its favor and just one Democrat, meaning any or all three of these healthcare bills can be combined into a single bill for a vote on final passage - which had the effect of significantly curtailing debate.

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