Senate close to a deal on health care?

The emerging Finance Committee bill would shave about $100 billion off the projected trillion-dollar cost of the legislation over the next decade and eventually provide coverage to 94 percent of Americans, according to participants in the talks. It would expand Medicaid, crack down on insurers, abandon the government insurance option that President Obama is seeking and, for the first time, tax health-care benefits under the most generous plans. Backers say the bill would also offer the only concrete plan before Congress for reining in the skyrocketing cost of federal health programs over the long term…

Negotiators are even crafting provisions that would limit their own authority over Medicare by empowering an independent commission to extract savings from the program…

Another flashpoint is whether government insurance subsidies could be used to pay for abortions. Baucus on Wednesday described “active discussions underway with all sides to try to put something together that would be acceptable.”…

Other new sources of revenue include penalties on individuals who do not obtain health insurance, and a “free-rider” provision that would require employers that currently offer health insurance to continue to do so, or to reimburse the federal government for workers who switch to subsidized coverage through an insurance exchange. Both provisions could yield about $43 billion over 10 years.

The rest of the additional revenue — about $250 billion — would come from new taxes, primarily from an excise tax of up to 35 percent on insurance companies that sell extremely generous policies worth at least $21,000 a year for family coverage or $8,000 a year for individuals, according to aides involved in the discussions. About 7 percent of taxpayers hold such policies.