Wednesday, September 16, 2009


NeBaucus Releases Senate Bipartisan Proposal
By David Herszenhorn

It’s out.

The much-ballyhooed, long-wrangled-over Baucus health care proposal (PDF), which has largely become President Obama’s blueprint for remaking an industry that accounts for about one-sixth of the American economy, is now public. Only to be wrangled over some more.

The proposal is the result of more than a year of preparation and more than three months of intense negotiations between a small group of Democrats and Republicans led by Senator Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana, the chairman of the Finance Committee.

The first surprise in the Baucus plan: a slimmed down price-tag of $856 billion over 10 years. Earlier versions of the health care legislation had come in costing $1 trillion or more. But stay tuned for a close look at the fine print; Congressional budget-scoring is often as much art as science.

Another number to watch: 13 percent. That’s the share of family income that the Baucus plan envisions middle-class American families having to pay in health insurance premiums before co-payments, deductibles and other cost-sharing.

And senators in both parties are questioning whether at the end of the day insurance will be affordable to the people who need it most — perhaps the single most crucial question for all of the health care overhaul proposals.

The Baucus bill seeks to extend health coverage to more than 30 million uninsured American citizens. To do so, it would broadly expand Medicaid, the state-federal insurance program for the poor, and provide government subsidies to modest-income individuals and families to help them buy coverage.

The bill would also create new, state insurance marketplaces, or exchanges, were consumers could shop for insurance and compare plans.

All of the insurance plans in the exchange would have to meet strict new government requirements. Insurance companies could not bar coverage based on pre-existing medical conditions, and could only increase the cost of premiums based on a small number of factors, like age, tobacco use and whether a plan is for an individual or a family.

(Bold Face mine)

COMMENT: It will not fly, first impression. When all costs are factored in the true cost per family unit will be well over 15% of income. The subsidy level is not available nor scale. This plan will increase average costs without improving quality. However judgement must be reserved until the final Senate bill-amalgamation of two on the floor and the House versions take place. .

The Insurance Lobby has won- Health insurance is being treated as a commodity risk with the elderly and those with disabilities paying a higher premium. The burden is put on those who can least afford it instead of a universal spread, the ideal solution.

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