Custom Search

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Obamacare- Baucus Plan Pleases No One

[Update] Baucus proposal released, 18 page PDF found here, via CNN, read it.

News hit that Senate Finance Committee Max Baucus (D-Mont.) is circulating a rough draft of Obamacare that he thinks he can get some moderates and Republicans to get on board with.

There would be co-ops and no public option, the proposal claims it is cost neutral and already paid for by taxing insurance companies that provide high end policies thereby getting employers to use cheaper plans which do not offer the same quality.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) has sent members of a bipartisan negotiating group a framework for health care legislation that would cost less than $900 billion, levy new fees on insurers and create a network of consumer-owned insurance cooperatives.

The plan, described by sources close to the negotiations as a “framework for consideration,” is the first concrete and comprehensive proposal to come out of the bipartisan talks, which have been ongoing since the spring.

As expected, Baucus’ proposal does not include a public insurance option, but instead features insurance cooperatives that could appeal to moderate Democrats and perhaps some Republicans. That’s a major difference from bills approved by three House committees and the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee.

Another significant variance with the House bills is the absence of a mandate on employers to provide coverage. Instead, the Baucus plan includes a “free-rider” provision in which employers would contribute to the cost of providing government subsidies for the employees who purchase coverage in a government-organized insurance marketplace known as an exchange, according to the plan circulating among senators.

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.

Not only does the right find problems with the Baucus proposal, but so does the left.

From the right, Hot Air:

Obama is often fond of claiming that ObamaCare won’t force people to change insurance plans. This tax intends to do just that, in the name of preventing “overuse” of medical resources. This is the usual attempt to impose parity not by improving the lives of others, but by rationing resources so that a certain equality of mediocrity exists instead.

Their exit question:

As for co-ops, I’ll stick with what I wrote late last month. Nothing prevents co-ops for health insurance from forming now, without government intervention. Putting government behind the co-op movement makes them dependent on government for continued operation, and we can expect them to feed at the federal trough just as electric-power co-ops have done for decades. Why are we recycling this bad idea in order to rescue another bad idea?

From the left, Open Left:

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.

I am sure more reaction will be coming out as the detail of the plan become public knowledge. I will update this as I see them.

[Update] More reactions on the Baucus plan from the left at Talk Left:

I put the blame for this on President Obama. Not only has he done a lousy job of explaining what he is willing to accept, he's done a lousy job of explaining the benefits of the bill and the sacrifices it will mean for the rest of us. And now, to top it off, he seems completely focused on passing any bill at all, just so he can say his Administration didn't fail. This compromise is a failure. If it passes, and he starts bragging about how his Administration passed critical health care reform, I'm going to tune him out.

If this is the compromise bill Obama says he supports, I hope it gets rejected in the House. There's plenty of time between now and 2014 to get it right. As with all legislation, a bad bill is worse than no bill at all.

Huffington Post:

The only way to keep insurance premiums down for the poor, and therefore keep the subsidies down, is to make the coverage less generous. And the insurers would only pay for covered expenses. Anything not covered by the plan would go directly to the consumer. Someone making $20,000 a year would still be on the hook for up to $6,000 in medical bills under this plan, and that doesn't include their premiums or non-covered expenses. Insurers, then, get off the hook for a huge chunk of medical costs while having to pay a nominal tax, and the goal is actually to have them not pay it at all, but simply to discourage companies from buying good insurance policies for their workers. And you would still see plenty of medical bankruptcies. Virtually everyone's health coverage gets worse under this Baucus scenario. I don't remember "Less Quality Now!" being part of any sloganeering on the reform side.

Plenty more to come as more reactions come in.

[Update] Lew Rockwell, "Beware of the compromise.":

You could see this coming a mile away. With the stalling of the “public option,” a compromise is being proposed which would expand Medicaid for catastrophic events and pass the bill along to insurance companies. As I think Ayn Rand said, in any compromise between food and poison, poison wins. Any compromise health care bill that moves towards more government control will be a victory for Obama and fully socialized medicine. This proposal will increase the demand for health care, raise prices, and increase the already crushing load of cartelized health insurance, leading to calls for fully socialized medicine in the very near future. Government creates its own demand. Let no one but John McCain be fooled by this Trojan Horse.

Left in the West:

Taxing health care benefits? And no public option? To paraphrase Mike Trumka, are you out of your everlovin' mind? (And can you imagine the chutzpah of releasing a proposal to tax health care benefits on Labor Day?)

Left in the West concludes:

You'll probably hear wide cry that this proposal is unacceptable to progressives because it lacks the public option. (Which is true.) But this proposal is so bad on almost every level, that no reasonable lawmaker should even consider voting for it, no matter their stance on the public option...

From the right again, Doug Ross:

In short, Democrats will solve the problem of rising health care costs by making health care plans more expensive.

To call the Democrats' health care message incoherent is to give them far too much credit.

The sixties retreads that control the current Democrat leadership need to stop dropping acid for a couple of weeks so they can craft a message that actually sounds like one of their traditional lies.

Commentary Magazine:

And now many House members, already burned by the unpopular cap-and-trade vote, aren’t anxious to vote before the Senate does. The Senate can’t decide whether to include the public option. The liberals are threatening not to vote for a bill without the public option, but no one believes them.

And the solution to this is another prime-time address by Obama? Hmm. I suppose it beats the alternative, which for Obama is to finally govern — tell his side what they can’t have, talk to the opposition and find out what they need, and maybe take the advice of the vast majority of conservatives and many moderates who are suggesting he downsize his ambitions. Nah. Another speech. That’ll do the trick.

VodkaPundit also discusses the speech, tongue in cheek of course:

Already, 23 Democratic congressmen have said they’ll vote no on the giant health care package. But if President Obama’s big speech tomorrow night is as effective as the first 27 (or 111, depending on how you count them) then by the weekend, that number could be up to 30, 35.

Stay tuned....