"Baucus has declined to release details."

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In the Senate, where the Finance Committee is painstakingly crafting the only bill that has a chance to win support from both parties, Chairman  Max Baucus (D-Mont.) announced that his bipartisan working group had come up with a plan that would actually save the government money by 2019.

Baucus has declined to release details.

There were so many realpolitix revealing paragraphs in yesterday's Lori Montgomery Washington Post propaganda piece, Fate of Obama's Health-Care Effort May Boil Down to Cost, I have to revisit a bit of it here. What's mainly grabbing me is how Senator Baucus is saying the final bill -- which features major subsidies so those without insurance can buy minimalist (but not cost-controlled) private health insurance -- will actually reduce government expenditures on health care. BUT HE HAS RELEASED NO DETAILS on how the bill is going to do that?!

That's not news? That's not something progressives, all taxpayers, should be asking Obama or whoever at a town hall? It's way past time for specifics!

And then Montgomery reveals some of the "how the govt is gonna pay for it and even come out ahead on the deal" to what I assume she assumes is her mostly inside-the-beltway PTB crowd. And no progressives are protesting that? The massive, 100s of billions of dollars, cuts to Medicare? Progresssives do know Medicare already, today, needs to be supplemented with private plans? We know (if you read my piece from yesterday) that seniors spend more on health care today, prorated for inflation, than they did in 1965 before Medicare was enacted? No protests, not even a whine or whimper? Please re-read some of Montgomery and weep, or shout, or something:

In the Senate, where the Finance Committee is painstakingly crafting the only bill that has a chance to win support from both parties, Chairman  Max Baucus (D-Mont.) announced that his bipartisan working group had come up with a plan that would actually save the government money by 2019. [fairleft: I bet he hasn't released details, cuz that would involve revealing raised fees, raised 'taxes' and quasi-taxes, and cut services, the icky stuff we're not supposed to know about.]

Baucus has declined to release details. But people involved in the talks said the plan would make more than $500 billion in changes to Medicare over the next decade, charging wealthy seniors more for prescription drug coverage, cutting $120 billion in payments to private insurance companies that serve some seniors and trimming projected payments to hospitals by $155 billion in an effort to spur efficiencies.

The measure contains a variety of other provisions aimed at bending the soaring trajectory of federal health spending, including a tax on insurance companies that offer very high-cost policies. Such policies help to drive health-care costs up, economists say. And it would create an independent commission empowered to cut Medicare spending to meet preset savings targets. Both ideas are now under discussion in the House as well, House Democratic aides said.

Although the Baucus plan is less generous than some Democrats would like -- the proposal would offer federal subsidies to a family of four if they earn less than $66,150 a year, compared with $88,000 in the House measure -- other Democrats and several Republicans said it's more important for the proposal to save the government money.  . . .

. . . Sens. Bob Corker (Tenn.) and  Judd Gregg (N.H.). [b]oth say they are watching the Finance Committee talks closely. Corker wants to see Baucus go even further to reduce future deficits by offering a solution to the thorny problem of Medicare payments to doctors, which are scheduled to be cut by 21 percent in January. The Baucus plan would postpone the cut for one year, but lawmakers would have to pony up $285 billion to fix it for the next decade.

. . . Democrats might find they lack the votes to pass any plan that does not make good on Obama's pledge that health reform means entitlement reform.

"When I look at the federal budget and realize that if we don't control costs on health care, there is no way for us to close the budget deficit, it will just keep on skyrocketing," Obama said at a town hall meeting Tuesday, "I say, we have to get it done."

As I said yesterday, in context that's a remarkably ugly statement by Obama. From the bodies of the sick and old we're gonna bleed out very large savings, so that the government's health care bill goes down. That way, we can pay for the exceptionally massive, several trillion dollar Wall Street bailout, and record-breaking imperial war budgets for as far as the eye can see.

Three more very interesting health care reads:

"You Do Not Cut Deals with the System that Has to Be Replaced" (Ralph Nader interviewed by Democracy Now)

Excerpt: ". . . the deal that's being cut here is from Obama to Senator Baucus, the Blue Dog senator from Montana, who is cutting a deal, largely in private, with right-wing Republican senators and getting it through the Senate and presenting Henry Waxman and John Dingle and others in the House with a fait accompli. So whatever they pass in the House will be watered down in the Senate-House conference. And what we'll end up with is another patchwork piece of legislation, allowing huge and expanded profits for the health insurance companies and the drug companies, and continuing this pay-or-die system that has plagued this country for decades, a system that takes 20,000 lives a year, according to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.

Health Plans and Death Plans (Alexander Cockburn provides a health history and tells it like it is about the present-day scene.)

Excerpt: "They're not going to surrender the treasure trove known as healthcare without serious blood-letting on the barricades. They own the Congress. Men like former Democratic senate leader Tom Daschle spring to do their bidding. So, Obama finally produced a timid compromise, whereby uninsured people would be herded under various health insurance umbrellas with "a public component." Even if the health industry's hired man, Senator Max Baucus, had not deep-sixed the public component, the insurance industry could swallow it like a python swallowing a field mouse. Though Obama sometimes confides that the public component of his plan is the springboard to full-bore single payer national health, this is transparent fantasy. In present political conditions, the publicly insured component would soon become a ghetto, offering minimal care to the indigent, and gradually shriveled into some sort of punitive maintenance scheme."

Is Obama a Back-Room Blue Dog on Health Care? (By the excellent Miles Mogulescu, whose August 6 article was Why Aren't Progressive Groups Protesting Obama's Back-Room Deal with Big Pharma? [I don't know Miles, no idea.])

Excerpt: "Failing to pass Health Care reform would be a set-back to President Obama and the Democrats. But passing a bad bill which subsidizes wealthy private interests; reverses Obama's campaign promise to allow Medicare to negotiate lower prices with drug companies; and mandates that people without insurance must buy inadequate policies from for-profit insurance companies (or a neutered, non-competitive "public option" or co-op which is too weak to reduce costs) lest they be fined by the IRS, could turn a generation against the Democratic Party, revitalize the Republicans, and "prove" to many Americans that government intervention in the economy is a bad thing."

Tags: Barack Obama, Health care, Max Baucus (all tags)

Comments

2 Comments

it's not cost details

I think there are so many economic benefits to providing affordable health care for all citizens that it will be well worth it.

I'd like a detail on the public option. I want medicare for all included as a choice, I'd like the choice of spending my health care dollars on the one that is most cost effective and already has high satisfaction.

I think the problem in selling reform has to do with that detail.  Barack's supporters aren't answering his call to help sell his plan, but without knowing if we'll have the choice of a public option, what are we selling. It's not doctor choice I worried about, it's insurance choice.  If my doctor won't accept medicare, I'll find another doctor.  

by anna shane 2009-08-16 10:42AM | 0 recs
$500+ billion in Medicare cuts

is a pretty major detail. You're right that this is a cost-benefit analysis, and we have nothing, no official details, on what the costs of the reform will be. Which is a major reason why I find the current support for Obama's 'plan' bizarre. We know only the positive aspects of it. He has told us it will be revenue-neutral, so how is he going to pay for it? Baucus seems to want to pay for it by gigantic cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, cuts in Medicare payments to doctors, and minimal subsidies for those forced to purchase health insurance.

by fairleft2 2009-08-17 09:29AM | 0 recs

Diaries

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