Cadillac tax

The day’s big story, from Mike Allen:

White House officials are embracing a plan to tax "gold-plated, Cadillac" insurance policies, giving momentum to an idea that is receiving bipartisan consideration on Capitol Hill.

"A premium charge on top of the most expensive packages is one of the ways to ensure that there’s a lid on health-care costs," a top administration official told POLITICO. "The president believes this is an intriguing idea."

Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, said Friday on Bloomberg TV that he is "taking an intense look at it."

And top House leadership official told POLITICO that the plan is "something we can live with."

The idea meshes with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s comments in recent interviews that the medical industry, including insurers, can do more to contribute to the cost of health-reform legislation.

Obama told Jim Lehrer of PBS’ "NewsHour" on Monday: "What’s being talked about now, I understand, is the possibility of penalizing insurance companies who are offering super, gold-plated Cadillac plans.

"I haven’t seen the details of this yet, but it may be an approach that doesn’t put additional burdens on middle-class families," Obama said. "My whole goal is not to add burdens to folks who are already having tough times affording insurance, but actually to relieve it. And so I’ve got to look at the details of that before I make any kind of final determination.

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) has floated the plan, which would charge an excise tax on policies that exceed a specific amount, perhaps tied to the average benefit received by federal employees.

Grassley said Friday on Bloomberg Television’s "Political Capital with Al Hunt": "We’re taking an intense look at it. I bet it’s been a subject of discussion for two days of the last four or five."

There’s some debate over these "Cadillac" benefits, however, as some who get them aren’t necessarily getting better coverage — they’re just employed at companies whose workforces are, say, older, thus more expensive to insure.

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