Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus has returned from his summer break with a new proposal for his Gang of Six—the three Democrats and three Republicans charged with negotiating details of the Committee’s reform bill.

Baucus has tried to craft a compromise that will attract at least a handful of Republican votes without alienating his own fellow Democrats. Accordingly, the 18-page proposal, described as “a framework of a plan” excludes the controversial public option and also any direct employer mandate. Instead, it proposes a network of insurance cooperatives, with federal start-up money, and a “free rider” levy on employers whose workers purchase government-subsidized coverage through an insurance exchange.

Other details that reflect Baucus’ attempt to walk the political tightrope include a levy on health insurer revenues and requirements for transparency of insurer costs as a condition of exchange participation, but also more limited Medicaid expansion and less generous subsidies for other lower-income individuals. In addition, a low-cost catastrophic coverage plan would be incorporated, available to those under 25 years old. Together, these provisions are expected to reduce somewhat the total reform cost from earlier estimates.

The Capitol Hill reaction so far seems to be closer to yawns than enthusiasm, with Baucus’ Democratic colleague Ron Wyden quick to point out any final Committee bill would depend on other members also.

No comments:

Post a Comment