UPDATED: The Final Five
October 05, 2009
Sometime soon, maybe this week,* the Senate Finance Committee is expected to vote on the health care reform bill it spent the last two weeks debating. Inside and outside the committee, people following this process more closely than I am say the bill is likely to pass. But it's not yet a sure thing. The committee roster is thirteen Democrats, ten Republicans. Majority vote rules. Chairman Max Baucus can afford to lose one Democrat, even if all of the committee Republicans vote against it.
Can States Do the Public Option?
October 01, 2009
The latest wrinkle in the public option debate (via Politico initially) is a proposal that comes from Senator Tom Carper, the Delaware Democrat that sits on the Finance committee. According to the proposal's latest draft, which Carper's staff is circulating but--I'm told--Carper himself is not really hawking yet, the idea is to let states set up their own alternative coverage options. Those options include starting a non-profit co-operative, opening up the benefits plan for state employees, or, yes, starting a real public plan. There's no trigger, at least in the document I've seen.
Today at TNR (October 1, 2009)
October 01, 2009
Earth to Obama: You Can’t Negotiate With the Planet, by Bill McKibben Benched: Why the Supreme Court Is Irrelevant, by Barry Friedman Everything You Need to Know About the Senate’s New Climate Bill, by Bradford Plumer Dionne: Why Are Democrats Being so Timid in Defending the Public Option? by E.J.
Insurance We Can Believe In
October 01, 2009
WASHINGTON--The strangest aspect of the debate over a public option for health coverage is that the centrists who oppose it should actually love it. It doesn't involve a government takeover of the health care system. The idea is that only consumers who wanted to enroll in a government-run health plan would do so. Anyone who preferred private insurance could get it. The public option also uses government exactly as advocates of market economics say it should be deployed: Not as a controlling entity but as a nudge toward greater competition. Fans of the market rightly oppose monopolies.
What Rockefeller Understands
September 29, 2009
Over the last few weeks Jay Rockefeller has emerged as the Senate's most visible spokesman for a public insurance option. And, purely from a public relations standpoint, this is something of a mixed blessing. He comes from West Virginia and is pretty popular there, so that certainly helps bring non-coastal credibility to the cause. But Rockefeller speaks in a plodding, rambling style that doesn't always make for great television. He's also pretty stubborn, which makes him a loud advocate but not necessarily an effective one, at least given the way the U.S.
Sad, if Predictable: Finance Rejects Public Option
September 29, 2009
Two public insurance options put up for a vote. Two public insurance options voted down by the Finance Committee. The count was fifteen to eight against the first amendment, which came from Jay Rockefeller and would have allowed the public plan to set its payment rates based on Medicare. The vote was a bit closer on the second amendment.
The Newest Grubbers
September 24, 2009
WASHINGTON--If the uninsured can't count on the do-gooders to help them, where else can they turn? The question arises because certain leaders of the sector of our society devoted to civic endeavors moved this week to block a perfectly reasonable way of raising some money to extend health coverage to those who don't have it. At issue is a proposal by a number of senators, including Jay Rockefeller and John Kerry, to put a cap on tax deductions taken by the well-to-do.
What Will Unions Get out of the Baucus Bill?
September 23, 2009
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Baucus released his modified mark to the reform bill yesterday afternoon, indicating concessions that he is trying to make toward Olympia Snowe as well as recalcitrant Democrats like Jay Rockefeller. Among the amendments is a higher threshold for the proposed excise tax on so-called "Cadillac plans," which will be raised from $8,000 to $8,750 for individuals and from $21,000 to $22,000 for families.
Show Me the Money
September 21, 2009
How do you pay for health care reform? This has always been the big challenge in crafting legislation. And it still is, as I write in my latest column with Kaiser Health News. There's widespread agreement--at least among Democrats and Olympia Snowe, the lone Republican working with them--that the bill coming before the Sente Finance Committee isn't generous enough. Specifically, it needs bigger subsidies to help middle-class people afford insurance, in no small part to make possible a stronger guarantee against financial ruin.
UPDATED: Rockefeller Says "No Way" on Baucus Framework
September 15, 2009
Senator Jay Rockefeller, speaking Tuesday afternoon on a conference call co-sponsored with the Campaign for America's Future: I have sat besides Max Baucus for 22 years on the Finance Committee. ... I'm probably one of his best friend among Democrats. But I cannot agree with him on this bill. ... There is no way in present form I will vote for it.