By Tom Curry National affairs writer
updated 9/16/2009 4:39:48 PM ET 2009-09-16T20:39:48

Claim: The Senate Finance Committee bill imposes an insurance mandate that would be hard for some middle class people to afford.

The Senate Finance Committee bill released Wednesday requires virtually all Americans to buy coverage, if they aren’t covered by an employer plan. Families of four with incomes of up to $66,150 would be eligible for subsidies and would be required to pay no more than 13 percent of their income for insurance. Workers with expensive employer plans would likely see a cost increase. Some Democrats say this would impose an unreasonable burden on some families.

Fact or fiction?
Fact. The bill would require individuals and families to have insurance. It also imposes a 35 percent tax on plans costing more than $21,000. Even with the bill’s subsidies, some lower- and middle-income people would pay more than they now do for coverage.

  • The 13 percent test

"It is going to be very hard to look families in the eyes and say, you're going to have to pay 13 percent of your income for healthcare coverage," Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., a Finance Committee member critical of the bill.

  • Trickle-down cost increase?

Finance Committee member Sen. John D. Rockefeller, D-W.V. said the 35 percent tax on high-value plans would hurt his state. "Virtually every single coal miner is going to have a big, big tax put on them," Rockefeller said. "The company will immediately pass [the tax] down in lower benefits." AFL-CIO chief John Sweeney said, "Outrageously, the plan imposes a 35 percent tax on high-cost health care plans without prohibiting insurers from passing on the tax to consumers who happen to be in groups that are older or sicker than average or live in high cost areas.”

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