As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Truth About The Baucus Health Care Bill

You can watch the public option debate in the Senate Finance Committee right now. It's important to understand what a bill without that public option would actually do. We got Jerry Flanagan of Consumer Watchdog to explain the elements of Baucus-care without a public option, and it's not a pretty picture.

As Flanagan explains, without a public option, insurance companies can set their own rates, set their own level of benefits, and force the uninsured to pay them under penalty of law - you're talking about a forced market where people will be fined for not giving money to private health insurance companies. Max Baucus would say that there are safeguards to limit the amount of out-of-pocket spending or premium spending as a percentage of income, but he wants those rules to be set by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, an industry-friendly group without open meetings or public hearings, making the potential for loopholes and abuse very ripe.

Flanagan also takes on the bad employer provisions in the Baucus bill, which will allow them to drop health care for their customers and throw them onto the exchanges. He says that employers could pay only a couple hundred dollars a year per employee under this plan.

Flanagan further explains that the co-op alternative in the Baucus bill could lead to the gutting of state consumer protection laws on health insurance. This is a key point, and could lead to the insurance market looking like the credit card market, with every issuer moving to states with virtually no regulations or restrictions on how they manage their credit card business.

If you're looking for a quick, succinct way to explain the problems with the Baucus bill, pass along this video.

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