Keith Hennessey, a former Republican staffer, offers a thorough overview of Baucus’ bill, summarizing it, he says, “in a matter similar to what I might have done for my colleagues while working in the White House.” His post is complete with sub-heads such as “substantively meaningless hat-tips for the left and right” and “overlooked political flashpoints.” Hennessey concludes, “I apologize for losing some of my usual objectivity, but I was unable to control myself. I think this legislation would be disastrous.”
The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein interviews moderate Democratic Senator Kent Conrad, and offers a glimpse of the politics behind his proposal to create nonprofit health insurance cooperatives:
I was also struck when I read the chairman’s mark that the co-op option seemed shackled. It couldn’t sell to large employers. It couldn’t set payment rates. The co-ops are not public. But they were being prevented from competing with insurers on a level playing field. It seemed like private insurers were being protected from competition.
I think there are things I would like to see that would make certain co-ops be given the full ability to compete that others are.
So you would like to see those restrictions lifted.
Why are they there?
Because that came out of the Group of Six discussions.
Wonk Room’s Igor Volksy previews the committee’s upcoming Tuesday debate of a public option. While the Senate HELP Committee and all three House committees have included public plans in their reform bills, the landscape on Finance is much thornier, with Conrad pushing for nonprofit co-ops and Republican Olympia Snowe offering a “trigger” mechanism. In a separate post, Volksy describes Democrats Jay Rockefeller and Chuck Schumer’s conference call with reporters yesterday describing their strategy to insert a public plan into the bill. Volsky even provides a sound clip of the Senators’ tough talk, which is punctuated with a prediction about the final outcome of the public plan battle.
Offering a nice illustration of the interplay at work between Conrad, Rockefeller and Schumer, Politico’s Carrie Budoff Brown described a scene at the Capitol yesterday: “And just as Rockefeller launched a takedown of Sen. Kent Conrad’s co-op proposal — mentioning the senator by name — Conrad himself walked into the otherwise empty room, his hand tucked into his pants pocket and a sly grin on his face. ”
John Thune of the Health Freedom blog says that the committee is “voting down amendments mostly along party lines.”
And Heritage’s Robert Book singles out the way the bill calculates subsidies for purchasing insurance and argues it “would have another, even stranger effect on hiring. Because the subsidy amount is based on family income and family size, not the wages that the employer pays, employers would naturally prefer to hire workers from higher-income families with fewer children. For example, hiring a single parent could incur a substantially higher tax penalty than hiring a worker with a working spouse or parent(s), or a worker who is single and childless.”