The Baucus Plan

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on September 17, 2009

Michael Tanner isn’t impressed:

That’s it?

For the past six months, six members of the Senate Finance Committee, led by Chairman Max Baucus, have been laboring mightily to design a health-care bill. Yesterday they finally brought forth their product — and it leaves us with more questions than answers.

Despite months of work, Baucus hasn’t really produced a bill yet, only a 223-page summary of what he hopes a bill will contain.

And what does Baucus hope the bill will contain? $856 billion in new spending, at least (as Tanner points out, the CBO’s estimates understate the true cost of the bill because the CBO looks at spending from 2010-2019, when the spending will begin in 2014). Onerous individual mandates that require either the purchase of health insurance, or the payment of a huge fine ($3,800 for a family of four, according to Tanner; it should be noted that once upon a time, Barack Obama was against mandates). Some people may have to change their plans in order to be able to comply with the mandate; this matter needs to be cleared up. Medicare Advantage enrollees may have to go back to traditional Medicare. Health Savings Accounts and Flexible Spending Accounts will be impacted negatively; so much for individual choice. And among other indignities, the middle class will be visited with further tax increases.

To be fair–and Tanner points this out–there are good things about the bill. But their existence does not depend on the existence of the bad things in the bill. The Baucus plan may have its merits, but at the end of the day, it is a flawed outline. It ought to be treated like one and summarily rejected.

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