Baucus Healthcare Bill DOA, But Could Be a Blueprint for Reform

Senator Max Baucus’ (D-MT) long-awaited centrist healthcare reform bill was met with strong objections by both liberal Democrats (who decried the lack of a public option) and Republicans (who oppose any expanded government role in healthcare).

MINIMUM WAGEStill, the Baucus proposal could serve as a blueprint for the ultimate compromise healthcare legislation that President Obama calls the “defining struggle of this generation” when it finally emerges from Congress.  Baucus’ proposal would expand consumer protections and require that all Americans have medical insurance with the government providing financial help to pay premiums for low- and middle-income people.  Insurers would no longer be able to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions or cancel policies after people get sick.  The Baucus bill would create private healthcare insurance cooperatives, which centrist Democrats prefer in place of the public option supported by liberals.

Despite tailoring his proposal to cost less and limit government involvement in healthcare,Baucus’ proposal is unlikely to win much support from Republican Senators. According to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), “Americans don’t think a bigger role for government in healthcare would improve the system.  Yet despite this, every proposal we’ve seen would lead to a vast expansion of the government’s role in the healthcare system.”

The Baucus bill is unpopular with liberal Democrats who insist that a public option be included in any healthcare reform legislation.  Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House bill, drafted by Democrats, was superior and “clearly does more to make coverage affordable for more Americans.”  The Congressional Budget Office said the expansion of coverage would cost $774 billion over 10 years, compared with price tags of more than $1 trillion for the other measures.

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