Baucus Offers New Health Care Compromise

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus tried again with another compromise health reform bill. The bill does have some useful provisions to prevent insurance companies from denying coverage but I will have to go through this in more detail to see if such benefits out weigh the compromises in his legislation.

Baucus continues to propose requirements for companies to pay only for employees who receive public assistance as opposed to a full employer mandate. As with his previous proposal this method of payment risks providing considerable incentive for employers to avoid hiring low income employees to avoid this requirement.

The bill proposes coops instead of a public option. I find this difficult to evaluate as, while we have concrete evidence of the success of Medicare as a model for a public option, we do not have similar information to use to judge the coop proposal. There will also be new charges on insurance companies to help pay for the plan.

One negative in the plan is to offer low income individuals Medicaid coverage with even less benefits than in the current Medicaid program. I already find expanding Medicaid a poor substitute for true universal coverage and question the value of what Baucus will provide with his Medicaid-lite.

There is at least one major improvement in this bill as opposed to the previous compromise suggested by Baucus. He has dropped the idea of charging Medicare beneficiaries a twenty percent copay on laboratory charges.

Update: Initial response in the liberal blogsophere is divided between finding this to be worthwhile reform even if not going far enough to seeing it as a total sell out. Matthew Yglesias sees this proposal as establishing a system similar to that in Switzerland while Scott Lemieux sees a number of holes in this analogy.

Update II: More on the problems caused by the employer requirement

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5 Comments

  1. 1
    Max Baucus News says:

    » Baucus Offers New Health Care Compromise Liberal Values http://bit.ly/18kX7b

  2. 2
    Max Baucus News says:

    » Baucus Offers New Health Care Compromise Liberal Values http://bit.ly/18kX7b

  3. 3
    Mike's I.P. alter-ego says:

    …”risks providing considerable incentive for employers to avoid hiring low income employees to avoid this requirement.” Those dirty capitalists will probably start paying executive pay to janitors to avoid having to pay health care benifits.

  4. 4
    libhomo says:

    The public option is the compromise plan.  The Democrats should have passed single payer by now.
    If my Senator Gillibrand votes for fake “reform” without at least a public option, I will make a donation to her primary challenger, Jonathan Tasini in honor of the occasion. I’m so sick of being betrayed by phony “Democrats.”  How many times are liberals going to put up with the abusive behavior we experience from so many “Democrats.”

  5. 5
    Eclectic Radical says:

    The ‘co-ops’ are being chop-blocked in the bill itself. Despite allowing the establishment of ‘co-ops’, the insurance cooperatives would not have the power to bargain collectively with health care providers (doctors and hospitals) to get the best possible rate for their members. Which really sort of kills the whole point of a cooperative as an alternative to current health insurance. They are being denied the power to compete.
    RJ Eskow offers a very harsh critique of the final Baucus-Conrad bill here.
     

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