Baucus Circulates Health Care Plan

by: Chris Bowers

Mon Sep 07, 2009 at 14:30


And it is every bit as bad as you thought it would be.

  1. No Public Option:

    The proposal by Mr. Baucus does not include a public option, or a government-run insurance plan, to compete with private insurers, as many Democrats want.

  2. Co-ops:

    Two of the Baucus measures reflect the group's long-standing goal to find common ground on highly contentious issues. Instead of a government insurance option, the Baucus proposal would create a network of non-profit cooperatives -- an alternative that Grassley, the lead Republican negotiator, has backed.

  3. Not even much of a trigger:

    Mr. Baucus's proposal does not include a "trigger mechanism" of the type recommended by Ms. Snowe, who would offer a public insurance plan in any state where fewer than 95 percent of the people had access to affordable coverage.

  4. More people covered, but with worse coverage:

    Mr. Baucus's plan, expected to cost $850 billion to $900 billion over 10 years, would tax insurance companies on their most expensive health care policies. The hope is that employers would buy cheaper, less generous coverage for employees, thereby reducing the overuse of medical services.

  5. Paid for through Medicare:

    In addition to the fee on high-cost plans, the proposal also would extract about $400 billion in cost-savings from Medicare, cuts that are stirring unease among lawmakers in both parties, due to the potential backlash among senior citizens, and Medicare's own precarious fiscal state.

  6. Fewer subsidies for people forced to buy insurance, and companies required to offer worse minimum coverage plans now that they will be forced to accept all applicants:

    Baucus' plan also is expected to be less generous in terms of subsidies and coverage than those bills - which, along with the absence of the public option, is sure to rankle more liberal Democrats.
I don't see how this is an improvement on the status quo.  Sure, people will be forced to purchase insurance, and private insurers will be forced to accept all applicants.  However:

  • Cost: There is no public option, not even a real trigger, and fewer subsidies to purchase insurance than in the House bills.  Hard to imagine would that will hold down the costs of health insurance premiums.

  • Coverage: Employers will start offering people who have coverage worse coverage, and insurers don't have to offer much at all in the way of minimum plans to people who currently do not have coverage.  Even if more people receive health insurance, it might result in a net drop in the quality of health care the country receives.
If this is an improvement over the status quo, right now I don't see how.

This moves the ball into the Progressive Block's court, not into President Obama's.  This draft proposal from Baucus is nowhere close to the type of health care bill they have said they can support.  Off hand, it seems perfectly justified to send this bill down to defeat.  However, as activists, we only have power to defeat or change this bill if the Progressive Block decides to hold the line.  They are going to be asked to fold and compromise, so it is their time to demonstrate leadership.  Let's see what happens.

No matter what happens, it is imperative that there is at least a vote on a robust public option in both branches of Congress.  We need a roll call indicating who opposes a real public option, and is instead looking to force this crappy bill on us.  Otherwise, there will be no way to hold Congress accountable.

Chris Bowers :: Baucus Circulates Health Care Plan

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I have to vehemently disagree with you Chris on a couple of pointst... (4.00 / 2)
If you have a pre-existing condition (which nowadays can be something as benign as acne), this is a significant improvement over the status quo, since few people who have ever seen a doctor within the last 10 years can get health insurance at any cost.

If you are an entrepreneur, the Baucus plan is much better than the status quo, 'cos you can now sign up for the same group rates that big business gets....

Thirdly, the best part about this plan is that Baucus resisted Grassley's call for gutting the financing... which means the money is there to make the bill better.  Even Snowe wants to do better.  With no Republicans onboard, there will be little impetus to keep the bill as weak as it is right now...  and since the money is still there (and as a compromise solution, no less), we have a much better shot at making it better.

I was very worried that Baucus' release would be under $700 billion, which would have made it impossible to do anything.  His release is actually better than what I expected, and that makes our job much easier improving the bill.

I'm actually breathing a big sigh of relief today.  I think our chances of getting a good bill int he end have gone up significantly.

REID: Voting against us was never part of our arrangement!
SPECTER: I am altering the deal! Pray I don't alter it any further!
REID: This deal keeps getting worse all the time!


hate to break the news to you (4.00 / 9)
but the 1996 HIPAA banned rescission, and we can see how far that got us.

I have no faith in a bill like this to solve anything, including the problem of people being excluded for pre-existing conditions.

Join the Iowa progressive community at Bleeding Heartland.


[ Parent ]
There is a big difference... (4.00 / 2)
The 1996 HIPAA law only applied to group plans... and in group plans, there has been no incidences of rescission.   The exchanges would act, in effect, as massive group plans and be regulated as such.  The one issue that has not been addressed by any group is that of claims denials, but if the government is subsidizing these entities, it will be difficult for them to continue such practices for very long without congressmen (with upset constituents) getting in the way...

REID: Voting against us was never part of our arrangement!
SPECTER: I am altering the deal! Pray I don't alter it any further!
REID: This deal keeps getting worse all the time!


[ Parent ]
Wait a minute (0.00 / 0)
So you are saying that the 1996 HIPPA law works exactly as it is written, that regulation actually works and the problem was the law was written too narrowly?

I don't know, every liberal I know says regulation doesn't work.  Everyone here, for example, is totally against regulation as it "can't be done" in the modern culture.  So you are saying they are wrong and laws and regulations actually work.  Man, in today's environment that makes you a conservative.

(And no, even I don't know where the snark ends and reality begins.)


[ Parent ]
No... I''m saying that the limited provisions... (0.00 / 0)
...in the bill do what they intended.  For example, prior to the HIPAA law, if you had a job and had a pre-existing condition, you couldn't get another one without losing coverage for that pre-existing condition for a year.  After the law, you could switch jobs and not lose coverage for that condition as a condition of getting a new health plan at a new employer.

Now, this may not seem that much, but it saved my ass more than a few times... so, it was very valuable to many people.  Was it enough to solve our health care problems?  Obviously not, but the limited provisions that were in the bill did help improve the health care situation for many people.

The problem was that it was too limited, that doesn't mean that the limited provisions weren't successful...

REID: Voting against us was never part of our arrangement!
SPECTER: I am altering the deal! Pray I don't alter it any further!
REID: This deal keeps getting worse all the time!


[ Parent ]
Snark misfired (4.00 / 1)
I should stick to purely serious posts.  I agree with you.  I found many arguments here at Open Left that regulation no longer works to be a bit far fetched.  They best example they had was this bill, which you do a good job showing works as written just fine.

The counterclaim is there are always loopholes, but I think most "loopholes" are pretty straightforward and obvious.

The public option is still really important, but all this other stuff matters just as much.


[ Parent ]
Nowhere to go but up. (4.00 / 2)
I tend to agree with you, Mike. The important thing was to get something out of that committee, and what appears to be coming out is somewhat better than I feared might be the case. Remember, the bill that comes out the Senate must be able to get 60 votes to overcome GOP filibuster.

The Senate as a whole will probably amend it to make it better. But the real action will hopefully take place in the conference committee between House and Senate. That should be another upward bump for the bill.

Whether the PO will be in that conference report or not is still questionable, as it probably depends on whether an internal head count in the Senate will get up to 50 votes. I hope it is but I have one major reservation about the PO. It is this: If the PO disproportionally attracts people with serious health conditions, it will have to pay out more, perhaps more than it takes in from premiums. Where will that money come from? Higher premiums I guess, because the PO must work without federal funding.

So, if a final bill can have strong provisions that will regulate profits (perhaps by mandating competition though a "menu" of plans), it might perhaps be equal to or better than a public option at this point. This certainly could be better than the status quo, depending on the strength of the regulations.

One other question? I haven't read the various bills before Congress. Is there any language in them about mandating catastrophic coverage, that is, coverage after some amount that the patient pays which would keep that patient from needing to declare bankruptcy? Or would those plans be available, but perhaps be prohibitively expensive?  


[ Parent ]
After all the talk by Grassley, Conrad, and Enzi... (0.00 / 0)
...scaling down the bill immensely, I'm INCREDIBLY relieved that Baucus decided to ignore them and submit a $900 billion bill into consideration.

Since $900 billion is now the "conservative" consensus on spending (not $700 billion or even $300 billion as was floated around the media the last two weeks), we won't have to be fighting conservadems for more funding...  That makes it MUCH easier to improve the bill, especially when the GOP will reject baucus' compromise, and there will be no need to appease them.

We are in a much better position today than we were a couple of weeks ago...

REID: Voting against us was never part of our arrangement!
SPECTER: I am altering the deal! Pray I don't alter it any further!
REID: This deal keeps getting worse all the time!


[ Parent ]
This seems the most generous (4.00 / 1)
construction possible of these events, but also not out of the realm of possibility.  I hope you're right.  

[ Parent ]
It's a piece of garbage (0.00 / 0)
and nothing more!

[ Parent ]
I also thought getting this bill out for a vote before the full Senate (0.00 / 0)
was priority number one. It was on life support in August. The conference is where things will happen...

[ Parent ]
Elimination of the PEC (0.00 / 0)
issue will increase costs of health insurance unless you mandate that all people have health insurance and then the companies will still jack up the prices unless there is a public option to keep them honest(ish).  

[ Parent ]
President Obama should unequivably (4.00 / 3)
reject the Baucus bill.

It is so bad it is easier to defeat it.

Baucus suceeded in his task from insurance companies, which was to delay and distract.


Whoops (4.00 / 1)
unequivocably.

Just reject the damn thing!


[ Parent ]
unequivocally? (4.00 / 1)
Not giving equal voice to alternatives; speaking in one voice; admitting of a single interpretation only?

Personally, I prefer unrequivocably, with carries the meanings of both "unequivocally" and "irrevocably" in a single word and passes the savings along to the consumer.

But yes, agreed, reject the damn thing using any adverbs that apply.


[ Parent ]
Think again.. (0.00 / 0)
It was Harry fu**ing Reid and the President, jointly,  that gave Max and others the time and authority to run the health care 'debate' into the ground.
Think Obama didn't know about the Baucus 'plan's' coming out party right before his speech?
We'll all see once and for all who's side he's on in a few days.

This joke of a Democratic controlled Senate plays a half-ass game of shitball because they're chronically too damn weak to carry a bat. And they get worse every day.  This is going to be a loooonnng and painful 4 years.



Nationalism is not the same thing as terrorism, and an adversary is not the same thing as an enemy.


[ Parent ]
Reid must be replaced, (0.00 / 0)
and replaced quickly, because he is nothing but a spineless wimp!

[ Parent ]
The public option is already a compromise (4.00 / 7)
People on the left need to stick to that message and not deviate from it.

The GOP won't even support what Baucus put forth, and they'll call for further compromise - although I don't know what that would look like given what we know of this.

The Democrats who do rally behind this bill as a "pragmatic" solution will be criticized correctly for soaking the middle class (taxes on employers who give generous coverage) and jeopardizing the social safety net for seniors.  

We need to get this out of committee, but at the same time make it perfectly clear that it isn't a viable alternative: DOA.    


Exactly. (4.00 / 1)
But I wouldn't even want this monstrosity of a bill getting out of committee.  For this the left abandoned all notions of trying to push for H.R. 676?  I know we can do better.



[ Parent ]
Why does this bill remind me (4.00 / 6)
of a fold-in from MAD magazine?

It's like all the horrible ideas that have been floated around have converged into an image of Alfred E. Newman.


Yes, We Can't! (4.00 / 2)
Life imitating satire?

"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly." -Woody Allen, My Speech to the Graduates

[ Parent ]
Tell Obama to stand up (4.00 / 1)
Progressives should bring this down until Obama is willing to stand by his promise, if no one holds him to his promises he is worse than useless.

Really? .. (4.00 / 4)
We need a roll call indicating who opposes a real public option, and is instead looking to force this crappy bill on us.  Otherwise, there will be no way to hold Congress accountable.

We know the worst offenders(meaning Blanche Lincoln, Ben Nelson .. ).  What we really need to find out is whether people like Tester and Bennet are on board.  It's really about smoking out the fence sitters and forcing them to take a stand one way or another.


The Road to Serfdom (4.00 / 4)
Let's see. We'll have even worse quality healthcare, at greatly increased cost to society, because apparently we're using too much of it to begin with! Effing Brilliant!

This will, of course, do wonders for an economy already well in decline. By making us pay so very much more for even less, this will prove a monstrous regressive tax on the economy, sapping GDP that much more. Green shoots!

Welcome to the Predator State.  

"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly." -Woody Allen, My Speech to the Graduates


Obama gave a speech today (4.00 / 8)
Apparently he was all fired up and raring to go. All the kool kids at DKos are ecstatic over it, claiming that He's Back! However, as with all his speeches, there were no specifics, just broad generalities and calls to get it done. It seems that whenever he has his back to the wall, he gives a speech, and his supporters jump for joy. As a candidate, it worked. As president, it's becoming less and less meaningful, as his actions increasingly lag his words.

I don't mind inspiring speeches. I like them, especially when they accompany strong action. But when the followthrough doesn't even begin to match the words and tone, you've got to suspect that either the man is all talk no action, or is punking us. His words seem to favor the progressive version of reform. But his actions so far have tended to favor the Baucus one. But it's crunch time, and we'll soon see who the real Obama is.

And I honestly don't get the adulation at this point. These people are either truly delusional, incredibly naive, mentally lazy, emotionally weak, quite stupid--or they're plants.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton


Party hacks (4.00 / 1)
"And I honestly don't get the adulation at this point. These people are either truly delusional, incredibly naive, mentally lazy, emotionally weak, quite stupid--or they're plants."

This is an interesting point. I do not think they are plants. My guess is that they are party hacks...not all, but Markos and some of the front-pagers. I am sure there is some discomfort there among those who are critical of Obama and have to hold back. Clearly after Obama's election, only  very restricted postings were allowed at DKos and no serious criticism of Obama was allowed. This was not the first time Markos put on his partisan hack hat and suppressed a necessary vibrant discussion. It may be they think is the right strategy, or they are angling for administration (low-level) positions, but in conducting themselves this way they really suppress a necessary discussion. Anyhow that is my take.


[ Parent ]
I don't see it that way at all (4.00 / 3)
Kos and nearly all FPers have been quite critical of Obama's policies and actions to my view. It's certain diarists and commenters who've been the adulators, and they've been given free rein there to engage in bullying tactics, by ganging up on anyone who dares to criticize Obama. They don't do this against Kos or FPers, only against regular members. So, at most, if he's behind this, it's indirectly, by allowing this to go on. But then, how does one reconcile this to his direct criticism of Obama? So I'm guessing that his allowing these people to do their thing is either about letting the site be a place where Dems of all persuasions hash things out, or, perhaps, from a business perspective, simply not driving people away.

In any case, I do believe that some of them are plants, but not necessarily from the same places. Some might be RW agents provacateurs trying to sow division on the left. Some might be from industries that have a stake in Obama and Dem policies. Some might be from the Obama organization as far as I know. And some may well be party hacks. And, of course, many, and perhaps most, are just regular people who've fallen in love and can't seem to shake it off, despite all the betrayals. Classic battered supporter syndrome. But something tells me that the impetus for all this pushback is coming from the plants, who are deliberately trying to block real progressive reform, via blog-based astroturfing.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton


[ Parent ]
I don't read that blog as you do (4.00 / 1)
and I stopped reading it seriously in the months after the election where questions about the emerging Obama administration were not uncommon on most blogs but not (to my eyes) on DKos. Since then I have not read it seriously, believing it had abandoned its critical function to cheerlead. I am confident of my view in the period of say 3 or 4 months following inauguration...things might be different and more critical now.

[ Parent ]
I've always found it to be both (0.00 / 0)
Or, more generally, consisting of serious critical voices, whether directed at the right, center or left, as well as of unserious voices, whether coming from the right, center or left. Nearly all if not all of the FPers, and lots of top diarists, are reality-based non-cheerleaders.

It's just that there's also a prominent cheerleader contingent, just as there has always been an anti-progressive element, be it in the anti-Dean camp (before I joined, but apparently massive), the pro-Hillary camp, the anti-impeachment camp, the anti-investigation camp, etc. Wherever it comes from, there is clearly this element there.

As I've written elsewhere here, while most of these people might be sincere, if misguided IMO, I think that more than a few are plants and shills, who are cleverly and cynically manipulating the true believers. And it's serving to dilute and split the left and waste its time and energy. Which is why I think it's worth monitoring, and not giving up on.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton


[ Parent ]
Ko's is more like a kum-by -ya tree.. (4.00 / 1)
..whose nuts easily fall to pieces with the slightest bump.

But back to the adulation thing, I can easily tell you that I - a powerful kick-ass take-no-prisoners kind of Lefty - do get a buzz at every Obama speech, still.

The bastard's smile and cadence are powerful tools that reek of hope and decency.  It causes Righties to go insane, and Lefties to forget all the other times they've been kicked in the head.

Moderates/centrists are such hand wringers they're the last thing the Prez needs around him right now and he's surrounded with them.
So it's up to our voices alone to remind him constantly of why we supported him and they didn't.

Nationalism is not the same thing as terrorism, and an adversary is not the same thing as an enemy.


[ Parent ]
dear worldly mother (0.00 / 0)
you seem as wise as your handle suggests, so i will admit that i have a crush on obama that includes tingles up my leg.

i feel squeezed by the fringe on the right and by the fringe on the left. i rarely come to OL anymore because the Obama haters are too much for me.

i don't hate centrists. i hate the racist wingnuts who want to boycotts todays school speech. they make me want to tear my heart out.

this place used to be a place to come and bemaon and organize against the right but no more...



[ Parent ]
Sry, but you seem to have completely missed... (0.00 / 0)
...Mother's criticism of the president. And there are not more Obama haters here recently, just more people becoming quite upset about the guy's appeasement policies and weak leadership. That's something different.

[ Parent ]
no (4.00 / 1)
i didn't miss anything. i don't mind the critics but i can't take the haters....


[ Parent ]
What haters? (0.00 / 0)
Apart from Jake Freeze, who may fit the description, I don't think anyone here really hates Obama. It's nothing personal, people are just totally dissatisfied with his conduct as president so far. You make it sound as if this is a hellhole like, say, NoQuarter...

[ Parent ]
AMEN! (0.00 / 0)
Totally dissatisfied with another Bushian!!!

[ Parent ]
I should also add (0.00 / 0)
that I view hacks as plants, in the sense of being self-plants. By plants I was generally referring to anyone with an ulterior and undeclared agenda who was not engaging in honest discussion. I'm not sure what's the general word that includes plants, hacks, concern trolls, shills, opportunists, etc. I.e. anyone engaging in deliberately dishonest discussion for some purpose other than that which is openly assumed. They are trolls, but specific kinds of trolls, quite different from people just trying to have some creepy "fun".

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
Too many right now are conflating process with results. (4.00 / 1)
The process in passing huge legislation is always messy, so to say that Obama is all talk and no action is rather silly when we are in the middle of the battle. We have to first see the end results before saying that he is all talk and no action.

[ Parent ]
Oh come on (4.00 / 3)
Like his words AND actions to date haven't consistently and I'd argue deliberately undermined the prospects for real reform, except in an 11D chess sort of way. Sheesh. This "Let's give him time" meme is tired and insulting. It's not about time. It's about direction and methods. And yes, process absolutely has to do with results, as anyone who'd had a job or been in school knows.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
He's been very consistent he favors the public option but (4.00 / 1)
isn't willing to scuttle a bill over the lack of a public option.   Besides four of the five committees have the public option so you cannot say that his actions have been inconsistent.

[ Parent ]
Oh come on redux (4.00 / 1)
Who cares what he "favors"? I'm only interested in what he actually wants in the bill and is willing to draw the line on. If he's not willing to do it on this, then he's not serious about real health care reform, and neither is anyone who says otherwise. Health care reform without a public option is like an oil change without the oil. Oh, but it's such a nice filter!

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
There are many countries that have universal healthcare without (0.00 / 0)
having the public option. So no there are several ways of moving toward universal health care coverage.

[ Parent ]
No, not many, a few (0.00 / 0)
The ones that I know of, in the developed world, that work well, are Germany, Holland and Switzerland. The rest either have single payer or true socialized medicine. But by far the most prevalent successful model is one of these.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
This shows that a good candidate doesn't have to be a good president. (0.00 / 0)
Great orators who manage to cpature the mood of the people have a strong adavantage in the campaign. But the president's job isn't about giving speeches, it's about leadership, and the campaigns offer only few chances to show that. In the case of Obama, the few decisions the candidate had to make were made for him by Axelrod. But Axelrod is not the right guy to get good policies implemented, and it shows now. And Obama obviously isn't a real leader, too, and this creates the dangerous vacuum at the White House. Of course, this should have been obvious before the election, there wasn't anything in Obama's resumee that was evidence for any decider qualities, he always focussed on finding consensus instead. Bzut in a time where bitter partisanship makes compromises impossible, this leaves the president unable to cope with the situation and get anything done. It's a nightmare.

We can only hope that Obama will learn "on the job", and find new strengths and abilites. Or else this will become just another Jimmy Carter presidency.


[ Parent ]
It's too late for that. (0.00 / 0)
He made one decision on the campaign that gave us a window into how he would govern, and that was the FISA decision.  Thousands of us were enraged with him at that time, and we formed a large organization right on his own site to fight him, and he didn't seem to care in the least.  He seemed to have absolutely no emotion about it, and he certainly didn't change his stance.  Then, after the election, who was his very first appointment?  Emanuel, someone who could care less about us!  He always seems to go after the ones who hate him the most.  He takes us for granted, believing we will always be there for him.  Obama will learn nothing on the job.  It is up to us to learn how to get our needs met, with or without Obama, and to find a spokesperson to run in the next election. FISA showed us that Obama doesn't care about us.  He is no better than Bush.  His actions have already demonstrated that he is just another typical politican and sociopath.

[ Parent ]
Only now, I can see right through him! (0.00 / 0)
I used to be one of those who idealized him too, but now, I really almost despise him, because he is just another petty politician and another sociopathic LIAR!

[ Parent ]
I don't think they are especially emotionally weak- I think they're (0.00 / 0)
damn average in that respect. The Kos rec list is constantly demonstrating how important a role emotions play in politics, and, to that end- although I can't say I don't roll my own eyes- it's incredibly valuable. Expecting that emotions not play a significant role in politics is itself quite naive. Human thought is rooted in emotion, and, especially as someone who used to work in advertising, I tend to think that anyone politically-minded downplays this at their peril.

 Yes, I skim some of those diaries in about 30 seconds flat, but I don't think they're remotely indicative of aberrance.  


[ Parent ]
Defines the conservative edge of the debate (4.00 / 3)
Personally, I think this proposal is awesome, from what I've read.  I'm not saying I want this to pass, but it does a good job defining the conservative edge of reform.  The best part, as Mike says above, is the price tag is $900 billion over 10 years, pretty close to the number that can actually be helpful.  In fact, this will probably be the number we end up with, but with a better structure.

So yes, I think Baucus was honestly useful here.  I think Obama should triangulate between this bill and the other bills to end up with something fairly decent.


I don't get it. Is this the official plan (0.00 / 0)
from the conference or some crap he made up?  

NOT A FINAL PLAN (4.00 / 1)
people are getting upset over something that is not even a final bill.  The final bill will be vastly different than this

[ Parent ]
But is this even the committee bill? nt (0.00 / 0)


[ Parent ]
article says (0.00 / 0)
the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee circulated a comprehensive proposal on Sunday


[ Parent ]
No... (0.00 / 0)
...it's the "gang of 6" compromise plan.

The committee still has their say, and without the GOP aboard, the committee is likely to improve it substantially.

REID: Voting against us was never part of our arrangement!
SPECTER: I am altering the deal! Pray I don't alter it any further!
REID: This deal keeps getting worse all the time!


[ Parent ]
There's an old procedural rule in the SFC where (4.00 / 1)
new legislation can only get out of the committee with at least one vote from a member from the minority party.

[ Parent ]
Snowe (4.00 / 2)
I think it is safe to claim the "Baucus plan" is realy the Snowe plan.

[ Parent ]
Bad Policy Is Bad Politics (4.00 / 6)
The Baucus Plan is a wet dream for the GOP. If it ever passes it will be the "Democratic Plan." (Sorry, if Olympia Snowe votes for it it's not "bipartisan" at the ballot box.) Uninsured voters (including the young, now heavily Democratic) will be outraged at the new and heavy tax. Employees with hard-won quality health care plans will be outraged since they're heavily penalized simply for negotiating decent coverage. Seniors will be outraged with Medicare cuts that cut too deep. Doctors, especially primary care doctors, will be outraged because there's higher caseload with too little reimbursement and continuing reimbursement hassles.

We might as well call this Baucus Plan the "Purge Democrats Act of 2010." I suppose the only good thing is that it's the Blue Dogs that will bear the brunt of voter anger.

Come on, Congress: this really isn't rocket science. Good policy is good politics. Pass a Medicare option for all, and have it start to cover at least some people in mid-2010 (not 2013). Voters will love you for decades.

We have to save the Democratic Party from committing suicide.


No Thanks (4.00 / 1)
Thank you Senator Baucus for your time and effort, but your bill is insufficient.

If you really can't stomach a "public option", how about you keep private insurance companies, but make them all non-profits.

You go talk to your buds in the insurance industry and see what they want.


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


Explaining Max's New Tax (4.00 / 5)
Ezra Klein has a blog post up that describes Baucus's new tax on health insurance. (Ignore Klein's cheerleading, though.)

So here's what Max is proposing in a nutshell: taxing the health insurance policies that offer decent coverage, based on the value of the premium. Except Max chooses to do this in the most inefficient and unfair way possible, by collecting the tax from insurance companies.

What's also bad about Max's Plan is that it doesn't matter what your income is: the tax amount and rate is exactly the same. So if you are a middle class union worker with decent health insurance, you're going to pay the same tax as an extremely high income earning CEO who gets good health insurance. For example, if the tax rate is 35% on premium amounts above $21,000 per year, then your $25,000 health insurance costs would rise to $26,400 (in a static analysis). And so would the CEO's: exactly the same tax for him.

Insurance companies have already said that they would pass any new tax along to their customers. (Duh.) And employers don't pay the tax (or any health insurance premiums) either: you do, in the form of lower wages. Make no mistake: it's wage earners who will pay these taxes. Max is just trying to get cute, thinking he can disguise them. (Good luck with that, Max.)

It's also not clear if Max even bothers to index the floor for this new tax, and, if so, what index he chooses. (Health care costs have been rising much faster than general inflation.) Nor is it clear if Max is adjusting properly (or at all) for family size. But, regardless, it's quite likely the tax will affect more and more Americans every year, increasing employer and employee out-of-pocket costs every year, locking in lower and lower wages. In other words, Max's Plan accelerates the already awful situation we have now: people who do have health insurance (or the wealthy who can pay for health care out of pocket) subsidizing people who do not have health insurance and who cannot pay. This cost-shifting within health care is a huge problem already, and Max thinks it's a great idea to make the problem ever-worse.

Of course, the reason Max has to create a new tax at all is because his plan doesn't achieve the cost savings and quality improvements that an immediate and robust Medicare Option would provide, as the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) attests. Because there's no robust public option, Max has to further distort our already broken health insurance market.

Max's Plan also undermines one of President Obama's biggest campaign promises, which he has reiterated often: "if you have a health insurance plan you like, you can keep it." False: under Max's Plan, you can only keep your health insurance if it's cheap and stays cheap (i.e. gets more and more crappy). If you or your union managed to negotiate decent coverage, then you won't get to keep it. There's a new tax that will make it even harder to afford.

Heckuvajob, Max!


Am I the only person on OpenLeft who is self-employed? (4.00 / 3)
This provision of the Baucus plan is potentially a killer to people like me who are self-employed:
"Mr. Baucus' plan . . . would tax insurance companies on their most expensive health care policies."
Often the most expensive policies are for self-employed people with pre-existing conditions. For instance, I have a self-employed friend who pays $1,300 a month because his wife has breast cancer. If the government taxes their plan, don't you think their premiums will go up?
The public option is really the only hope for self-employed people. Period. If the Baucus bill prevails, here's what self-employed people get stuck with if they have a health calamity:
"limits on out-of-pocket medical costs - the co-payments, deductibles and similar charges for covered items and services [of] $11,900 a year for a family and $5,950 for an individual."
Do you have that kind of cash on hand?

Save Our Schools! March & National Call to Action, July 28-31, 2011 in Washington, DC: http://www.saveourschoolsmarch...

Health Exchange (4.00 / 2)
Perhaps the most important element of all these plans is the size and shape of the health exchange.  The article is completely mute on this topic, so I have no idea what is in Baucus' plan.  However, if the exchange is large enough to cover small employers and the self employed (as most plans are) then you should be ok.  You'll be able to purchase insurance using the exchange, giving you the leverage of a large corporation.

Note that the public option is only as large as the exchange.  All the plans I've seen have the option only available on the exchange.


[ Parent ]
So (4.00 / 1)
shouldn't the size and shape of the health exchange be as big as possible? Isn't that after all how you get economies of scale that are large enough to compete with for-profit health care? Which means that the exchange has to be nation wide? And the only viable nation wide exchange is essentially a federal government plan?  

Save Our Schools! March & National Call to Action, July 28-31, 2011 in Washington, DC: http://www.saveourschoolsmarch...

[ Parent ]
YES (4.00 / 1)
But for those protecting the insurance corporations, they try to reduce it.  Also, the public option has a "cost" associated with it that goes up the larger the exchange.  I put that into quotes because that cost is based on how many people choose the purchase the PO.  The more that are expected to purchase it the more the health care bill is expected to "cost".  And yes, that is really stupid.  Yet just yesterday Tom Brokaw claimed the PO cost $1 trillion based on just that kind of calculation.  The cost to tax payers is actually negative, saving us hundreds of millions, as it is expected to drive the cost of all health care down.

[ Parent ]
I am also self-employed. (0.00 / 0)
But I am on Medicare and only need to purchase a Supplement and Medicare RX Part D (Plus all the Donut Hole B.S.).  It runs into about $350 a month, plus thousands in RX co-payments.

[ Parent ]
Not as scary as my worst fears, but still quite awful. (4.00 / 2)
This is how I'll sum up my feelings on "The Baucus Caucus Plan" that's finally emerged. As Mike said upthread, the $900 billion price tag is better than expected. But still, there's no public option... It's even to the right of REPUBLICAN Olympia Snowe's AND ConservaDem Ben Nelson's trial balloon of a public option with a trigger! I just hope this won't be the final Senate bill. It's crucial that we get a final Senate bill with a public option so that House Progressives will be on stronger ground to make the public option stronger in Conference.

I'll send another message to Mr. Majority Leader tomorrow (yes, I'm a Nevadan now & Harry Reid is actually my Senator!) and ask him to stand by his recent pledge to support the public option. As long as both houses of Congress pass health care bills with a public option, it's pretty much guaranteed that the final bill will have some sort of public option and we can focus more on getting a more Medicare-like strong public option out of Conference.

Yes, Virginia, there are progressives in Nevada.


It MUST be defeated! (0.00 / 0)
It is more Republican snakeoil, and it will NOT do!!!

[ Parent ]
What haters? (0.00 / 0)
Apart from Jake Freeze, who may fit the description, I don't think anyone here really hates Obama. It's nothing personal, people are just totally dissatisfied with his conduct as president so far.

Oops, wrong thread. (0.00 / 0)
Strange mistake, sry.

[ Parent ]
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