16 September 2009


Well, I'm not sure that I really need to add anything to Nate Silver's clever summary:
Baucus Compromise Bill Draws Enthusiastic Support of Senator Max Baucus (D-MT)
I swear that headline would not be out of place in The Onion.

So, to summarize: Baucus has bent over backwards and enraged the electoral base of Democratic party by moving his bill further to the right in order to attract Republican votes for a "bipartisan" bill.  The result: zero Republicans in support.  The interesting consequence is that Democrats also are now turning against BaucusCare, with Jay Rockefeller (incidentally, the Chair of Finance's Healthcare subcommittee) in open opposition to the bill as proposed, and Wyden and Kerry expressing "concerns."   It's even possible that the bill might not make it out of committee -- though it's more likely that Finance liberals would pass it out of committee and try to merge this with the more progressive HEELP bill on the floor.

As for the bill itself: it pretty much sucks.  It keeps the most important check-boxes filled: individual mandates, the Insurance Exchange, standard insurance regulatory reforms.   So it's still well within the conceptual framework that the HEELP bill and House bill have established, which is good news. 

The bad news?  Well, no public option, of course.  Worse is how stingy the subsidies are.  The very poor would be reasonably cared for, but the combination of an individual mandate plus weak support for lower-middle-class families is a recipe for electoral suicide: an unpopular law that doesn't work.  The problem here is that if you force people to buy really expensive insurance (up to 13% of income) but do nothing to make it affordable, either people won't do it (and risk the penalties) or they'll buy shitty insurance that doesn't really cover anything, thus defeating the purpose of the act.  It will be hated, and it won't work.

[UPDATE: as pointed out many other places, this bill does not have an employer mandate, but a "free rider" provision that  may well have some very pernicious consequences on employment.  I don't pretend to know much about that sort of thing, though.]


  1. the bill might not make it out of committee

    Is it possible that this is a giant poison pill meant to kill reform entirely?

  2. Oh, god. The bill is so bad. So bad. The "subsidies" would be hilarious if they weren't so depressing. The idea of co-ops instead of a public option would be laughable if it wasn't so tragic.

  3. Yes, wasn’t that the plan to begin with…it was to distribute all the wealth of the rich..and you know, Hollywood people have all their lawyers so they don’t get hitched (pay high taxes) so who is left, we, the middle class…so then we barely make it…Well, we can think who??? You guess!!! Tax increase by our lovely government. Thanks a lot.

  4. It's bad, but I am desperate. "Really expensive" insurance, at 13% of income?

    I am looking at 96.6% of mine... and that's why I won't be insured in less than 2 weeks. It's terrifying, particularly since I'm pretty darned sick.

    I know that infusing desperation into any decision-making process can only yield cooptation... but damn, I would JUMP, LEAP, PIROUETTE at the chance to pay 13% of my income.

    The retarded thing? I am also paying for pseudo-concierge care through my internist who is with MDVIP. And people have the gall to look at me as if that's a crime. "She cannot afford health insurance, but she's blowing a wad for a,fancy-schmancy doctor."

    I love the headline. Baucus will always support Baucus!

    Again, I appreciate your posts on the reform effort. Dunno why, but I can tolerate your summaries, and I generally am in agreement with your opinions (I can be a tad bit more adamant; I also need to run screaming into the hills with increasing frequency). Go figure!

  5. Addendum! What do you know of the McCain "rider" that Obama indicated he'd like added to the bill? You know, the one that would *immediately* help those of us in a real pickle by offering, at least, some protections against financial ruin in the very mean and lean time -- while we wait for the provisions of the heart of the bill, to be enacted in *4* years.

  6. What is the point of a health reform bill without a public option? Who would we be helping? But really what is a health reform without universal coverage? The answer to both questions of course is prejudiced. We let fate decide how much health care/insurance you are entitled to. Born into upper middle class and up? Full benefits. Anything less and you are not even guaranteed crappy health insurance coverage.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.