The ‘Put Health Care Reform to Death’ Panel

From The Washington Post:

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus is urging three Republican colleagues to sign off on the $900 billion health-care reform package they have helped to negotiate over the past two months, in order to add a bipartisan proposal to the mix before President Obama’s speech to Congress on Wednesday.

The Baucus plan, circulating among the Finance Committee’s “Gang of Six” this weekend, sets forth provisions that have already gained the bipartisan group’s unofficial support and adds nothing that the group has not already deliberated, senior Senate aides said. But Democrats are wary that two of the three GOP negotiators — Sens. Charles E. Grassley (Iowa) and Mike Enzi (Wyo.) — could walk away, under pressure from their Republican colleagues to allow Democrats to fight for a bill on their own.

Original DVD cover

Instead of a government-run insurance option, the Baucus proposal would create a network of nonprofit cooperatives — an alternative that Grassley, the lead Republican negotiator, has backed.

Co-ops that will not work!

The Baucus proposal also would levy a tax on insurance companies that offer the most expensive insurance plans, a move that would raise around $180 billion over the next 10 years. Negotiators had discussed directly taxing people who receive high-cost plans through their employers — benefits that currently are tax-free — but settled on taxing insurance companies as a more politically palatable alternative.

So insurance companies can pass that expense off to their policyholders. And this helps how? 😕

In either form, the tax is aimed at persuading insurers to stop offering high-cost plans and workers to stop choosing them, a change that economists believe would divert money from the nation’s bloated health-care system and channel it into higher wages for workers. While many Democrats and Republicans in the Senate have endorsed the idea, it remains unpopular in the House, in part because union households are among the beneficiaries of the so-called “Cadillac” health plans. The levy also could violate an Obama campaign pledge not to increase taxes on families earning less than $250,000 a year.

In addition, Baucus would seek to raise a smaller amount by imposing a fee on all health insurance companies according to their market share — a measure intended to extract some sacrifice from an industry that stands to gain 46 million new customers. Baucus proposes a variety of mechanisms to enhance competition and transparency to ensure that the firms do not simply pass the fee through to their customers.

Because corporations are really lousy at finding new loopholes when old ones close. 🙄

From The New York Times:

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.

The White House press secretary, Robert Gibbs, appearing Sunday on the ABC News program “This Week,” said Mr. Obama saw the public plan as “a valuable tool” to promote choice and competition in the insurance market. But he stopped short of saying that the president would veto a bill without it.


People familiar with Mr. Baucus’s plan said it was calculated to appeal to Senator Olympia J. Snowe, Republican of Maine.


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.

The separate new fee on insurance companies would help raise money to pay for the plan. The fee would raise $6 billion a year starting in 2010, and it would be allocated among insurance companies according to their market shares.

The fees were first proposed by Senators Charles E. Schumer of New York, John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan. Until now, Mr. Baucus had not shown interest in the idea.

Mr. Schumer said, “The health insurance industry should pay its fair share of the cost because it stands to gain over 40 million new consumers under health care reform legislation.”

Mr. Rockefeller said the fees were justified because insurance companies were “rapaciously, greedily and unstoppably making money by underpaying the patient, by underpaying the provider and by overpaying themselves.”

Insurers and many Republicans in Congress oppose the fees, saying they would be passed on to families and employers who buy insurance.


Another section of Mr. Baucus’s proposal would help pay insurance premiums, co-payments and deductibles for people with incomes less than 300 percent of the poverty level ($66,150 for a family of four). It would also provide some protection for people with incomes from 300 percent to 400 percent of the poverty level (up to $88,200 for a family of four), so they would generally not have to pay more than 13 percent of their income in premiums.

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.

Senator Ben Nelson, Democrat of Nebraska, expressed support for Ms. Snowe’s idea on Sunday. On the CNN program “State of the Union,” he said Mr. Obama ought to say that “if there’s going to be a public option, it has to be subject to a trigger.”


Coverage under Mr. Baucus’s plan would, by some measures, be less extensive than the least generous of three levels envisioned in a bill approved by three House committees.

To compare health plans, experts often focus on the percentage of medical expenses paid by insurance, on average, for a given population. This figure ranges from 70 percent to 95 percent under the House bill’s options, but it would be less than 70 percent under Mr. Baucus’s proposal.

Mr. Baucus would impose limits on out-of-pocket medical costs — the co-payments, deductibles and similar charges for covered items and services. The limits would be $11,900 a year for a family and $5,950 for an individual. The comparable numbers in the House bill are $10,000 and $5,000.


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14 responses to “The ‘Put Health Care Reform to Death’ Panel

  1. MediaMentions

    You’re not the only one with reasonable doubts, but maybe this article can help sort things out although so far, I’m with you on this one:

    • i hope you don’t mind that i shortened the link, mediamentions. the article might help sort things out for me, but i can’t access it. perhaps you can summarize.

  2. I didn’t see anything at that link that contained a story about Maxie’s plan… all I saw was the President…lol

    I didn’t see anything in your story about the cost to people about the mandate and how much it would cost… that would be the killer for most people I think… how can you afford to pay that when you are out of work, ill and needing insurance in the first place.. doesn’t make much sense to penalize everyone who can’t get coverage anywhere else, if they can’t afford to get coverage through Maxie… Now does it

    From The Political Carnival

    But those who still don’t sign up would face hefty fines, starting at $750 a year for individuals and $1,500 for families. The maximum penalty on individuals would be $950.

    • i couldn’t include everything i wanted to include. this was from slinkerwink’s diary over at the big orange:

      And the idea that “affordability” is determined by health insurance costing 13% of your annual income if you’re a family of four, is ridiculous. That means a middle-class family would have to pay $8599.50 a year for health insurance, to the tune of $716.58 a month, is nothing but an utter giveaway to private insurance companies with no cost containment such as the public option. There’s also no mention about whether health insurance is capped at a certain percentage of your income if you happen to make more than 400% above the FPL. So, you wouldn’t get any subsidies for your health insurance if you happen to buy health insurance for yourself and your family if you happen to make too much as a family.

    • the link at your blog goes nowhere, so i suggest nobody click on the link you posted.
      hr3400 is the same old crap that does nothing to help people who have no insurance. tax credits don’t mean anything to those too poor to pay taxes, let alone too poor to pay for insurance. the insurance companies provide nothing and make a lot of profit doing so. they don’t make anyone healthier. all they do is step between a patient and his doctor and line their pockets while doing so. anything other than a public option only enriches the worthless insurance companies.

  3. Perfect, a picture of Dino on the DINO.

  4. Dusty

    Hey Nonnie, off topic..sort of..I put up Lawrence’s visit to Countdown tonight if you didn’t get to watch it.

    • how about these facts:

      1. if you lose your job, you will lose your health insurance.

      2. you have no real choice. if your employer wants to change insurance companies or stop buying insurance, you’re stuck.

      3. your employer has you by the balls. he doesn’t have to be generous with bonuses or raises, because he knows people are afraid to quit in case they can’t get insured elsewhere.

      4. if you have a preexisting condition, you won’t be able to find insurance at a decent price (if you can find any at all).

      5. the insurance companies serve no purpose whatsoever other than making money for themselves. they make money by denying you care. they are beholden to their stockholders, and all they care about is the bottom line and paying out billions to their own ceos.

      6. billions of dollars are wasted every year for paperwork generated by the insurance companies.

      that’s just off the top of my head. i’m sure everyone else can add a hundred more reasons why universal government-run health care is cheaper and better than the crap system we have now.

  5. Max Baucus’ alternate health care bill is an absolute monstrosity, and as such deserves to die a harsh, horrible death. He’s an idiot and I hope the president seeks reconciliation to get the public option pushed through. It’s looking like that’s going to be the only way to get real health care reform accomplished.