Washington, D.C. Employers would be required to offer health care to employees or pay a penalty — and all Americans would be guaranteed health insurance — under a draft bill circulated Friday by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy’s health committee.
The bill would provide subsidies to help poor people pay for care, guarantee patients the right to select any doctor they want and require everyone to purchase insurance, with exceptions for those who can’t afford to.
Insurers would be supposed to offer a basic level of care and would be required to cover all comers, without turning people away because of pre-existing conditions or other reasons. Insurance companies’ profits would be limited, and private companies would have to compete with a new public “affordable access” plan that would for the first time offer government-sponsored health care to Americans not eligible for Medicare, Medicaid or other programs.