Health Bills — no fines for Americans abroad
Of the numerous bills proposed in the 111th Congress related to health care reform, two have emerged as the front-runners, neither of which would tax Americans abroad for not having US insurance.
The two bills are:
- H.R. 3962 “Affordable Health Care for America Act” was passed in the House on 7 November 2009, and has been put on the Senate legislative calendar.
- H.R. 3590 “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” is the Senate version of the health care package (it was grafted on, as “an amendment in the nature of a substitute,” to a House bill on another subject, hence the H.R. notation).
In their present formulations, both bills specifically exclude overseas Americans from proposed mandatory US health insurance coverage. Language in the initial Senate health plan that would have imposed an excise tax on Americans residing abroad has been removed, and a specific exclusion has been added. The House health care package excluded overseas Americans from its inception.
The Wall Street Journal (online.wsj.com) recently published an interesting comparative chart on various provisions of the two health care proposals (as well as on President Obama’s stances, to the extent known).
ACA continues to follow the evolution of the health bills carefully. It is very pleased to see that both the House and Senate bills now consider bona fide residents overseas to have medical coverage, so that they will not be subject to penalties for not having a US health plan. ACA actively advocated with the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee as well as with the Senate Finance Committee to obtain this. Provisions for funding the legislation are also likely to affect Americans overseas, whether they be additional taxes on high incomes, or increased deductions for Medicare and Social Security (which would affect American-owned businesses abroad).
Current expectations are that the final Senate version of its bill should be passed before Christmas, after which there will be negotiations to reconcile the House and Senate versions, with a joint House-Senate bill passed in January 2010.