The Senate committee will start putting this together next Tuesday. The WSJ
Sen. Edward Kennedy plans a new disability-insurance program that would automatically enroll all American workers as part of the sweeping health-care bill he is preparing to introduce, aides said Friday.
Premiums would automatically be charged, and in many cases deducted from workers' paychecks, unless they choose to opt out of the disability program. The idea is to give all workers a basic level of protection in case they become disabled. But it could draw complaints from people who see it as a de facto tax, given that few workers are expected to opt out.
On average, premiums could not exceed $65 per month, according to a Senate aide who described the provision in detail.
Participants would be entitled to a cash benefit of at least $50 a day if they become so disabled they cannot participate in at least two or three activities of daily living, such as eating, bathing or using the toilet. The money could be used for expenses to support staying in one's home.
If all American workers participated, one estimate found that the program would collect $320 billion in its first year, the Senate aide said. The money would be put into its own separate fund, not available to other government spending.
Overall, Mr. Kennedy's legislation aims to fix the nation's health-care system by creating a new public health-insurance plan, requiring individuals to buy health-insurance coverage and employers to help provide it and creating new exchanges that would allow Americans to comparison shop for health insurance, according to a committee briefing paper reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.
Members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which Sen. Kennedy chairs, plan to meet behind closed doors starting Tuesday to discuss exactly what will be in the measure, according to a Senate aide. The committee is expected to hold public hearings on the legislation as early as the following week. . . . .
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