House looks for money for healthcare

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The powerful tax-writing House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee will unveil a funding plan by Friday to pay for broad healthcare reforms, Chairman Charles Rangel said on Tuesday.

“We’re going through the president’s revenue raisers and thinking about putting some others on the table,” Rangel told reporters after a committee meeting to discuss funding proposals.

The Democrat from New York said he needed to weigh which proposals may cause the Democrats to lose broader support for healthcare reform.

President Barack Obama this weekend proposed cuts to healthcare programs, including trimming hospital funding, that he said could raise more than $300 billion to help pay for reforms. That is on top of about $300 billion in cuts he has already proposed.

Rangel also said the panel was weighing the “depth” of the subsidies that low-income people might get under any health reform legislation.

Democratic Representative Richard Neal, who chairs a revenue subcommittee of the Ways and Means panel, said a cap on the tax free status of employer-sponsored healthcare is still being discussed.

“Everything is in the draft stage,” he said, also following the hearing.

Ways and Means is one of three committees in the House that is drafting health overhaul legislation. Two committees in the Senate are charged with the task and the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee is expected to unveil its version later this week.

On Monday, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said a Senate proposal to expand healthcare coverage would increase the federal deficit by about $1 trillion over 10 years and still leave millions without insurance.

An estimated 46 million people in the United States lack health insurance. Devising a way to cover them has become a major goal of Obama’s presidency.

Reporting by Kim Dixon; editing by John Wallace and Andre Grenon