THE TREATMENT SEPTEMBER 16, 2009
It's out! Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus just released his proposal for health care reform. It's a "chairman's mark," which, again, means it's written in regular English rather than the gobbledygook of legislation. Gobbledygookification will take place later on, when--and if--the full Finance Committee passes it.
Whether that will happen is unclear. In the last twelve hours, committee Democrats who were not part of Baucus's bipartisan Gang of Six have raised all sorts of objections. Ron Wyden is worried about affordability protections and doesn't like the fact that people with employer-sponsored insurance can't opt out to buy private coverage through exchanges. Robert Menendez doesn't like the requirements to show residency papers, fearing it will keep out not just illegal immigrants but legal ones, as well. Bill Nelson doesn't like the cuts to Medicare Advantage plans, saying it will mean less access for seniors. And then there's Jay Rockefeller, who is so angry over the affordability features, lack of public plan, and changes to Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program that he's said he won't vote for the bill in current form.
The Republican leadership, for its part, has made clear it wants no part of the bill, despite the many compromises Baucus made in an effort to reach across the order. Of the Gang of Six, only Olympia Snowe seems seriously interested in signing on, although--as of yet--she hasn't done so.
And yet, for all of these problems, the appearance of an actual bill means that the process--stuck in this place since before the August recess--can move forward again. That's no minor thing.
But enough about the politics. Policy analysis awaits--and will have to await a little longer, while I finish another article and canvass the usual suspects for their reactions. If you fancy yourself an analyst and can't wait, have at it--and let me know what you think! I'll be checking the comments.