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Grading the Baucus bill

Everybody who’s been paying attention to health care reform was eager to see what sort of monstrosity emerged from the Senate Finance Committee. Today, they presented their bill. The New York Times has provided a forum for health care experts to grade the bill. Everyone seems to hate it.

It seems to me that the fundamental problem with the bill is that the health insurance that it mandates that people purchase (and that employers provide in order to get credit for providing health insurance) is very low quality. I don’t know how cheap it will be, but even if you have it, it will still be very easy to go broke because you get sick. That’s a big problem.

Ezra Klein also notices that the bill punishes employers for hiring poor people. This is what conservatives talk about when they warn of unintended consequences.

4 Comments

  1. The bill sucks. Now, even at that, it would be an improvement on the status quo, because the status quo sucks a LOT more, but the bill would very specifically suck for a lot of specific people. Especially young people who don’t make a hell of a lot of money. You know… the most reliably Democratic demographic in the country? Exactly the people you want to sell out to the insurance companies in the first major piece of progressive legislation under a new Democratic President & Congress!

    The Baucus plan is egregiously bad in almost every way, down to the fact that you will be forced to make your mandated payments to private insurance companies through a payroll deduction. That is, you will literally have a government-enforced tax paid to a private party. This is a truly novel thing not just for America but for any country; Switzerland’s mandated private coverage is somewhat similar but their private insurers are heavily-regulated and required to be not-for-profit.

    This is a spectacularly bad idea. The bill includes several of the key progressive reforms but omits the other parts that are required to prevent them from being exploited by insurance companies or falling extra-heavily on people who can’t afford to pay for them.

    A real bill is going to be over a trillion dollars because of the costs of providing subsidies for those who will be forced to buy insurance but cannot afford the full price of it. That’s okay. A trillion dollars sounds like a lot of money, but even 1.5 trillion over 10 years would be about 1% of GDP (approx. $150 trillion over ten years – the US is a VERY VERY WEALTHY COUNTRY), which seems like a bargain to cover the approximately 10% of the population who are uninsured right now (and to provide security for the rest of us). And it can be funded completely with taxes that the rich are barely going to notice (that’s why they call them “the rich”) and some cuts in Medicare Advantage and other junk.

    And rich people who care desperately about tax increases… don’t vote Democrat. This is not difficult politics where the affected demographic is key to the ruling party. This is easy, easy stuff.

    I don’t know that the Democrats have really internalized how much their own supporters are going to hate them if they screw them on this bill. 2010 will be a bloodbath for Democrats if anything like the Baucus bill gets passed.

  2. This bill does nothing to reduce the cost of health insurance for the individual. Their is no choice for the consumer as the individual is required to purchase insurance from his/her employer.

    The only way there can be portablity in health insurance is if the insurance is tied to the individual and not the employer. The selection of plans and options are not to the benifit of the employee but to the employer. Currently the employer is able to deduct primiums that are paid by the employee as pay to the employee from gross income that makes no sence. This bill is nothing more than a transfer of wealth from those who work to the top of the economic latter.

  3. Shouldn’t we be focused on reducing the cost of health care? Whether an insurance company of the government is doing the underwriting, the cost is just going to be returned to the policy holders/taxpayers whatever the case may be.

    I’m very disappointed that all the discussion is on the insurance side and not on the actual cost of the care we are receiving.

  4. If everyone hates it, it must be the best compromise EVER! 🙂

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