Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Senate Finance Committee Kills Public Option Amendments

This doesn't strike me as too terribly surprising:

The Rockefeller Amendment

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) proposed a robust public option, with funding tied to Medicare rates. The final vote was not close -- every Republican on the panel voted against it, as did Democratic Sens. Max Baucus (Mont.), Kent Conrad (N.D.), Tom Carper (Del.), Blanche Lincoln (Ark.), and Bill Nelson (Fla.). Of those, Carper's opposition came as something of a surprise, as did Nelson's vote.

The final vote, then, was eight to 15.

The Schumer Amendment

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who was certainly on board with Rockefeller's proposal, offered a different plan, generally called the "level playing field" approach to the public option, similar to what the Senate HELP Committee already passed. Under this proposal, instead of tying the public option's rates to Medicare, HHS would negotiate with providers, just as private insurers do.
The committee just voted, and defeated Schumer's measure, 10 to 13. Two Dems who voted against the Rockefeller Amendment -- Bill Nelson and Tom Carper -- switched to support this approach, but Baucus, Conrad, and Lincoln still voted with the GOP.

Finance Committee Votes On Public Option

Any reasonable public option for the bill before the Senate Finance Committee was killed by these votes.

Blanche Lincoln, one of the targets of the vote like a Democrat campaign, does not appear to have been swayed by it. The time for recriminations is later, but this vote should have consequences for her down the line.

At this point the Finance Committee's bill (PDF), the one written by Max Baucus with input mostly from the people who shouldn't be writing a bill, will do more harm than good. This bill includes health insurance mandates for individuals:

Personal Responsibility Requirement. Beginning in 2013, all U.S. citizens and legal residents would be required to purchase coverage through (1) the individual market, a public program such as Medicare, Medicaid, the Children‘s Health Insurance Program, Veteran‘s Health Care Program, or TRICARE or through an employer (or as a dependent of a covered employee) in the small group market, meeting at least the requirements of a bronze plan, or (2) in the large group market, in a plan with first dollar coverage for prevention-related services as recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force – except in cases where value-based insurance design is used and cannot have a maximum out-of-pocket limit greater than that provided by the standards established for HSA current law limit. Exemptions from the requirement to have health coverage would be allowed for religious objections that are consistent with those allowed under Medicare, and for undocumented aliens. An individual enrolled in a grandfathered plan would be deemed to have met the responsibility requirement.

America's Healthy Future Act (PDF)

[italics from original]

Employers are exempted under the current version of the bill. At the moment, I don't have an objection to that. Neither individuals nor employers should be required to buy bad insurance.

Relying on this government to regulate a well-heeled industry like the insurance industry is equivalent to having no real regulation. People who are sick, particularly if they have potentially fatal diseases or injuries, aren't in a position to fight for the money that health insurance companies should be providing for their care. The government won't do it, as it has proved in the case of the credit, banking, and securities industries.

I suggest that anyone who is interested in having health care when he really needs it should write his Senators today explaining why this is a bad bill.


Dusty said...

I am not surprised but I am fucking pissed.

Those five bastards need to be voted out..but will their constituents actually show up at the polls to dump them?

Fuck no.

The Great Health Insurance Company Giveaway has begun!

Bet they are lighting up cigars all over America right about now..it IS happy hour in most cities.

Dana Hunter said...

"I suggest that anyone who is interested in having health care when he really needs it should write his Senators today explaining why this is a bad bill."

Or move to one of the 35 countries with better health care than ours.

Cujo359 said...

I'm afraid we're stuck with Baucus until 2014, Dusty. Lincoln and Dorgan, if memory serves, are up for re-election next year. It would be nice to think that their constituents will vote them out, but I share your skepticism.

That will probably be the next step, Dana.

Anonymous said...

Is there a corner here for those who think this whole health care "debate" is a scheme to destroy any chance that a plan will be successful? From the beginning with single payer (Medicare extension) was left off the table to the latest Senate shambles, the design is to create failure, even the purported WH designed program promises more of the same. The end result will be taking health care off the table for another generation or two with the added benefit that the failure will provide leverage to finally destroy the last vestiges of FDR's New Deal. The Rats are running the granary.
Thanks, Expat

Cujo359 said...

There's no reason to posit a conspiracy. The special interests that are running this Congress must have known that this issue would be coming up, and they were ready.