Affordable Health Care for America Act

Affordable Health Care for America Act
Affordable Health Care for America Act
Great Seal of the United States.
Full title An act to provide affordable, quality health care for all Americans and reduce the growth in health care spending, and for other purposes.
Legislative history
Major amendments
Relevant Supreme Court cases
Health care reform in the United States
Enacted legislation
of late

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The Affordable Health Care for America Act (or HR 3962)[1] was a bill that was crafted by the United States House of Representatives in November 2009. At the encouragement of the Obama administration, the 111th Congress devoted much of its time to enacting reform of the United States' health care system. Known as the "House bill," it was the House of Representative's chief legislative proposal during the health reform debate, but the Affordable Health Care for America Act as originally drafted never became law.

On December 24, 2009, the Senate passed an alternative health care bill, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (H.R. 3590).[2] In 2010, the House abandoned its reform bill in favor of amending the Senate bill (via the reconciliation process) in the form of the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.


Key provisions

The central changes made by the legislation include:

  • prohibiting health insurers from refusing coverage based on patients' medical histories[3][4]
  • prohibiting health insurers from charging different rates based on patients' medical histories or gender[3][4]
  • repeal of insurance companies' exemption from anti-trust laws[4][5]
  • establishing minimum standards for qualified health benefit plans[3]
  • requiring most employers to provide coverage for their workers or pay a surtax on the workers wage up to 8%
  • restrictions on abortion coverage in any insurance plans for which federal funds are used[4][6]
  • an expansion of Medicaid to include more low-income Americans by increasing Medicaid eligibility limits to 133% of the Federal Poverty Level and by covering adults without dependents as long as either or any segment doesn't fall under the narrow exceptions outlined by various clauses throughout the proposal.[7][8]
  • a subsidy to low- and middle-income Americans to help buy insurance[6]
  • a central health insurance exchange where the public can compare policies and rates[6]
  • requiring most Americans to carry or obtain qualifying health insurance coverage or possibly face a surtax for non-compliance.[3][9]
  • a 5.4% surtax on individuals whose adjusted gross income exceeds $500,000 ($1 million for married couples filing joint returns)[3]
  • a 2.5% excise tax on medical devices[3]
  • reductions in projected spending on Medicare of $400 billion over a ten-year period[4]
  • inclusion of language originally proposed in the Tax Equity for Domestic Partner and Health Plan Beneficiaries Act[10][11]
  • inclusion of language originally proposed in the Indian Health Care Improvement Act Amendments of 2009.[12][13]
  • imposing a $2,500 limit on contributions to flexible spending accounts (FSAs), which allow for payment of health costs with pre-tax funds, to pay for a portion of health care reform costs.[3][14]

Comparison with House version

The main House reform bill was the Affordable Health Care for America Act, which passed November 7, 2009. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is the Senate version, passed December 24.[15] The following table compares the two versions.

House Senate Notes
10-Year Cost (billions)[15] $1,052 $848 Net subtracted from deficit
Number uninsured by 2019 (millions)[15] 17 23 54 without bill
Public option[15] Yes No
Individual mandate[15] Yes Yes Penalty tax or fine if coverage not carried
(See Insurance subsidies below)
Employer mandate[15] Yes Yes Small businesses exempted
Abortion coverage[15] No Yes H: No in public option or subsidized plans;
may be covered by separate riders
S: Yes, but must be paid for separately without subsidies
New and increased taxes[15] Yes Yes H: Families with income > $1 million
S: High-cost insurance plans;
Wealthiest Americans Medicare taxes;
Indoor tanning tax
Insurance reforms[15] Yes Yes H: Remove anti-trust exemption
Both: Define qualified health benefit plan
Expand Medicaid[15] Yes Yes Max 2009 Income, Family of 4:
H: $33,000
S: $29,000.
Insurance subsidies[15] Yes Yes Prorated to $88,000 for family of 4 (2009)
H: Premium subsidies; S: Tax credits
Tax equity for domestic partners[16] Yes No


The bill was introduced on October 29, 2009 and passed on November 7, during the 1st Session of the 111th Congress. Its primary sponsor was the Dean of the House, John Dingell of Michigan. The bill is a revised version of an earlier measure, the proposed America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 (HR 3200 [17][18]). The revisions included refinements designed to meet the goals outlined in the President's address to a joint session of Congress in September, 2009 concerning health care reform.

House actions

House voting map for H.R. 3962 where green indicates a 'Yes' and red a 'No'.

The Affordable Health Care for America Act, H.R. 3962, was introduced in the House of Representatives on October 29, 2009 and referred to several Committees for consideration.

On November 6, 2009, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce was discharged. The House Committee on Rules introduced House Resolution 903 (H.Res. 903) along with a Committee Report, No. 111-330. The Committee Report detailed the amendments considered as adopted if and when the bill passed the full House in Parts A & B, it provided the Stupak–Pitts Amendment for consideration in Part C as well as the Boehner Amendment, a substitute for the bill, in Part D. The House Resolution outlined the process to be followed for Parts A thru D in relation to H.R. 3962 and set the rules for debating the proposed bill.

The following day, House Resolution 903 was voted on and passed.[19] This, in effect, added the amendments outlined in Rules Committee Report No. 111-330, Parts A & B, to H.R. 3962. Part C, the Stupak–Pitts Amendment, was brought up, considered and passed.[20][21] Part D, the Boehner Substitute Amendment, was then brought up, considered but failed passage.[22][23]

The newly amended bill eventually passed the House of Representatives at 11:19 PM EST on Saturday, November 7, 2009 by a vote of 220-215. The bill passed with support of the majority of Democrats, together with one Republican who voted only after the necessary 218 votes had already been cast. Thirty-nine Democrats voted against the bill. All members of the House voted, and none voted "present".[24]

Both before and after passage in the House, significant controversy surrounded the Stupak–Pitts Amendment, added to the bill to prohibit coverage of abortions – with limited exceptions – in the public option or in any of the exchange's private plans sold to customers receiving federal subsidies. In mid-November, it was reported that 40 House Democrats said they will not support a final bill containing the Amendment's provisions.[25] Stupak has said that 15–20 Democrats will oppose adoption of the Senate bill because of objections to its abortion provisions as well as its tax on high-value health insurance plans.[26][27] In March 2010, Stupak voted for the Senate language health care bill excluding the Stupak Amendment language.

Senate actions

The Affordable Health Care for America Act, H.R. 3962, as engrossed or passed by the House of Representatives, was received in the Senate, read into the record and placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders (Calendar No. 210, Nov. 16, 2009).

H.R. 3962 as eventually enacted

A different bill, under the same bill number H.R. 3962, was eventually passed by Congress and, on June 25, 2010, was signed by the President. This is the "Preservation of Access to Care for Medicare Beneficiaries and Pension Relief Act of 2010.[28]

See also

  • Qualified Health Benefit Plan


  1. ^ (H.R. 3962
  2. ^ Pear, Robert (December 24, 2009). "Senate Passes Health Care Overhaul Bill". The New York Times. Retrieved December 24, 2009. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Congressional Research Service (CRS) Summary of H.R. 3962 as introduced, the Library of Congress, October 29, 2009
  4. ^ a b c d e Espo, David (November 8, 2009). "Landmark health bill passes House on close vote". Associated Press. Retrieved November 24, 2009. 
  5. ^ H.R. 3962 Affordable Health Care for America Act, Division A, Title II, Subtitle F, Section 262, 111th Congress.
  6. ^ a b c Hulse, Carl; Pear, Rolbert (November 7, 2009). "Sweeping Health Care Plan Passes House". The New York Times. Retrieved November 24, 2009. 
  7. ^ H.R. 3962 Affordable Health Care for America Act, Division B, Title VII, Subtitle A (entire), 111th Congress.
  8. ^ Leary, Alex (November 12, 2009). "Health care reform: Where the House, Senate agree and disagree". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved November 24, 2009. 
  9. ^ H.R. 3962 Affordable Health Care for America Act, Division A, Title V, Subtitle A, Part 1, Subpart A, Section 501, 111th Congress.
  10. ^ Cole, Michael (November 7, 2009). "House Passes Health Reform Bill with Key LGBT Provisions". Human Rights Campaign. Retrieved November 9, 2009. 
  11. ^ H.R. 3962 Affordable Health Care for America Act, Division A, Title V, Subtitle B, Part 3, Section 571, 111th Congress.
  12. ^ H.R. 3962 Affordable Health Care for America Act, Division D (entire), 111th Congress.
  13. ^ H.R. 2708 Indian Health Care Improvement Act Amendments of 2009, 111th Congress
  14. ^ "A Comparison of House Senate Health Care Bills", Detroit Free Press, December 24, 2009
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Health-Care Reform: How the Bills Stack Up, The Washington Post, September 16, 2009 (updated December 24, 2009), Retrieved February 5, 2010
  16. ^ Moulton, Brian (18 March 2010). "House Posts Health Care Bill, Leaves Out LGBT-Specific Provisions". Human Rights Campaign. Retrieved 22 March 2010. 
  17. ^ (H.R. 3200)
  18. ^ Topline Changes From Introduced Bill to Blended Bill, (PDF), House Committee on Energy and Commerce, October 29, 2009.
  19. ^ Roll call vote 882, via - H.Res.903: On Agreeing to the Resolution
  20. ^ H.Amdt. 509, the Stupak of Michigan Amendment
  21. ^ Roll call vote 884, via - H.Amdt.509: On Agreeing to the Stupak of Michigan Amendment
  22. ^ H.Amdt. 510, the Boehner of Ohio Substitute Amendment
  23. ^ Roll call vote 885, via - H.Amdt.510: On Agreeing to the Boehner of Ohio Substitute Amendment
  24. ^ Roll call vote 887, via - H.R.3962: On Passage Affordable Health Care for America Act
  25. ^ MacGillis, Alec (November 14, 2009). "Health-care reform and abortion coverage: Questions and answers". Washington Post. Retrieved November 24, 2009. 
  26. ^ Kantor, Jodi (January 6, 2010). "Abortion Foe Defies Party on Health Care Bill". New York Times. Retrieved January 7, 2010. 
  27. ^ Weisman, Jonathan (February 24, 2010), "Stupak: 15-20 Dems Can’t Back Obama Health Plan", Washington Wire, The Wall Street Journal, Retrieved February 24, 2010
  28. ^ Public Law no. 111-192, summarized at [1]. For the full text of what was actually enacted under the heading "H.R. 3962," see [2].

External links

Latest Congressional Budget Office scoring (all previous scoring for now superseded; H.R. 3200 no longer applies)

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Estimates of the impact of H.R. 3962
Additional House committee generated information accompanying H.R. 3962 (November 6, 2009)

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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