Talk about a letdown. Max Baucus was saying for weeks that he was close to a bi partisan agreement in his committee on a bill. It turns out that this bi partisan agreement is an agreement of one. In fact, the long awaited bill isn't even clearly a bill. The bill still needs to be debated, changed, and ultimately marked up in his Finance Committee.
Baucus is about to unveil the proposal and he'll be doing it himself. There is no agreement. It's not even clear that all Democrats would support this bill. None of the so called Gang of 6 will be with Baucas when he unveils the bill. So, essentially, Max Baucas has decided to unveil yet another bill to the mix.
One of the biggest problems for the president on this issue has been confusion. Now, Max Baucas has added yet another bill to the mix. So, we're in a place for even more confusion. Now, there are five bills in play. We still don't know what the president wants. Now, there's another bill to consider.
Keep in mind that another bill has already come out of committee in the Senate. So, this bill will have to be reconciled with that. This bill doesn't have the public option. In the House, Democrats insist on a public option. In other words, chaos is reigning.
The bill itself is about the same as the leaks a week and a half ago. It will have a co op not a public option. It will mandate health insurance. It will create all sorts of fines and penalties for those that don't get insurance if they make enough. It will create all sorts of stiff taxes on health insurance providers for "cadillac plans". There is some language in the bill for tort reform but the details of the tort reforms are still not public. The bill costs about $850 billion over ten years but 1) it doesn't go into effect until 2013 and 2) a lot of costs are put on the states. So, in my opinion, a lot of this relatively low number is actually fuzzy math.
So, we will have this plan competing with a number of other plans and we'll go from there. The president still wants to pass this by Thanksgiving and this proposal only makes that even more difficult. No one, but Baucus, appears all that excited with this bill. Yet, it will now move to the committee and eventually to be reconciled with the other Senate bill. We still have a House bill that looks very different from this one. So, chaos continues to reign.
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