Reporting from Washington — Some reader questions about the proposed healthcare legislation in Congress:
Will abortions be covered by the legislation as it stands now?
The House healthcare bill passed this month includes a provision that would bar the government-run insurance plan (the "public option") and all private insurance plans that receive federal dollars from covering abortion services. Employers can offer abortion coverage under their benefits packages. The Senate is considering similar provisions, but has not decided on specific language.
Are there incentives for individuals or companies to be accountable for their health?
Under the House bill, small employers would be eligible for grants for wellness programs, covering up to 50% of the costs for up to three years. Other grants would help train community health workers to teach medically underserved communities about healthful living and would fund programs to prevent obesity.
What are the minimum benefits that would be offered under the public option?
All insurance plans regulated under the House bill, including the public option, would be required to offer a set of "essential benefits," to include hospital services, physician services, preventive care, maternity care, prescription drugs, and mental health and substance abuse services. They would also have to offer rehabilitative services and coverage for medical equipment like prosthetics.