Breaking Sen. Baucus

Senator Max Baucus of Montana will convene a meeting of the Senate Finance Committee today to discuss, amend and vote on his own health care overhaul plan. In the past few days news has been peppered with some of the changes and compromises that Baucus has considered for the bill, and issues on which he seems intent to hold steady.

Fellow senate Democrats and Olympia Snowe of Maine, the only remaining Republican, have raised two main issues with the bill.

First, Baucus’ proposal for the first time would require middle-income families to carry some sort of health insurance. Many within the committe believe that this may place too much pressure on families to purchase insurance they can’t afford. Baucus has not changed the requirement but conceded that he may reduce penalties for those without insurance.

Second, a main funding proponent of the proposal was Baucus’ plan to place a large excise tax on high-cost insurance policies. For Baucus and supporters, this would reduce overuse of medical services and deter insurance companies from

Problems with these funding measures stem from a number of circumstances. A big one is occupational, for instance it costs more to insure a firefighter than a software engineer for obvious reasons.

Whichever direction this week sees the committee go, one thing is clear: this bill is not the sweeping reform we once heard about.

Though controversial, it’s not surprising that some of the measures in question are the newest and perhaps brightest ideas. It has no provision for a government option to compete with private insurers. Non partisan sources project Baucus’ bill to actually subtract from the national deficit, but without the excise tax and penalties for uninsured middle-class, a large portion of that funding goes away.

Perhaps it’s true that some public servants and high-risk workers will foot the bill in terms of the excise tax, but it could be equally true that the tax would eventually drive down costs. The same could be said of the idea of having a much larger percentage of people covered by insurance plans. It’s the reason they were placed in the bill in the first place.

For all his effort and compromise over about a year, Baucus has barely gotten one Republican (Snowe) to consider supporting his bill. Attempts at bipartisanship are great, but perhaps they’ve been wasted here. We’re already pretty far off from the reforms we heard about just under a year ago, when talk was aggressive. We can ill afford to compromise and sterilize new reforms into complete uselessness.


One Response to “Breaking Sen. Baucus”

  1. hanstheprof Says:

    Nice work tackling a very complicated and controversial subject. A couple of thoughts:

    Make sure you watch your spelling, grammar and finish your thoughts. For example, you wrote: For Baucus and supporters, this would reduce overuse of medical services and deter insurance companies from…

    I’m guessing you meant to return to this idea?

    Also, be sure to embed links into your posts.

    Keep up the good work!

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