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.
For Rockefeller, At Least One Victory
September 14, 2009
Though he’s the second-ranking Democrat on the Finance Committee, Jay Rockefeller has had a hard time being heard in the health care debate. The West Virginia Senator has positioned himself to the left of the Gang of Six, the bipartisan group with which Chairman Max Baucus has been negotiating legislative language. In particular, Rockefeller has openly attacked Kent Conrad’s co-op plan and unabashedly defended partisanship as the route to real reform.
The Urge To Purge
August 09, 2009
One of the great ironies of the health care debate is that small business owners tend to be most wary of reform, even though they are the employers who probably stand to gain the most. To see why, consider the insurance company practice of "purging," which Senator Jay Rockefeller (along with some allies) is spotlighting this week. Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, insurers must renew policies for small groups from one year to the next, even if members of that group file large claims.
At What Cost?
July 14, 2009
Negotiations over health care reform screeched to a halt late last week when 40 centrist Democrats--members of the House Blue Dog Coalition--signed a letter saying they could not support the House’s emerging legislation without significant changes. Their major complaint? They said the House bill would not do enough to bring down health care costs and, by extension, limit the taxpayers' liabilities. Without more changes to reduce the cost of medical care, they warned, it would be unwise to back massive expansions of insurance coverage.
Making The Fine Print A Little Less Fine
May 21, 2009
The horror stories you read about American health care frequently focus on people who've lost their insurance. And, lord knows, there are way, way too many of those stories to tell. But people with insurance experience plenty of horrors, too. Time's Karen Tumulty wrote a moving cover story on one such case--her brother's--a few weeks ago. I've told a few of these tales myself. And studies suggest there are plenty more out there. A common theme in many of these stories is confusion. When people buy insurance, they often have no idea what they're buying.
The Happy Talk Is Great. Don't Expect It To Last.
March 06, 2009
Thursday's White House summit on health care was all about cooperation and optimism. Republicans promised to work with Democrats. Corporate lobbyists pledged to find common ground with liberal activists. If you support comprehensive reform to make health care affordable for all, it was hard to walk away without feeling enthusiastic--about both President Obama and what he's trying to do. But at least one forum participant, West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller, wasn't feeling so cheery. Rockefeller is no enemy of reform.
August 01, 2003
Since the joint congressional committee investigating September 11 issued a censored version of its report on July 24, there's been considerable speculation about the 28 pages blanked out from the section entitled "Certain Sensitive National Security Matters." The section cites "specific sources of foreign support for some of the September 11 hijackers," which most commentators have interpreted to mean Saudi contributions to Al Qaeda-linked charities.
Don't Look Now
July 28, 2003
In the hushed halls of the Hart Senate Office Building last Thursday afternoon, there was a bustle of activity outside room H-219. A group of senators streamed through tinted-glass doors, leading to a soundproof steel vault in which the Senate Intelligence Committee holds its classified hearings. An academic-looking man in thin-rimmed glasses arrived with an aide in a white Navy uniform.