Senator Max Baucus (D, MT) is floating his new plan for health care. As chairman of the Senate Finance committee, Baucus has been a key player in the health care debate.
For all the pomp and circumstance (and idle chatter about "compromise") there's precious little in the plan that we haven't already seen in the House bill, H. R. 3200. But details have been pretty sketchy thus far.
No word yet on how many millions of Americans will remain uninsured under the Baucus plan, but the cost is estimated to be around $900 billion. If history can be trusted to teach us anything, this is almost certainly a conservative estimate. (The one time when liberals are conservative is when they're estimating the cost of their stupid plans.)
Lets get down the key features:
- No public option
- $400 billion in cuts from Medicare
- No tort reform
- New job-killing taxes on employers to provide for the cost government subsidies for employees who are covered by a government-run insurance exchange
- $6 billion a year in new taxes on the health insurance industry (starting in 2010)
- New excise taxes on health insurance companies that provide high-end insurance plans
- Would bar insurance companies from dropping a policyholder in the event of illness as long as that person has paid his or her premium in full.
- Creates government-run health care cooperatives.
- Expands Medicaid, starting in 2014, to cover millions of lower-income people.
- Creates health insurance exchanges for small businesses and individuals.
- Creates catastrophic insurance as an option for people 25 and younger. (Government-run or private — who knows?)
- Would provide tax credits to help low- and middle-income families purchase private insurance coverage.
- $900 billion in new spending
- Presumably forces everyone to be on health insurance or face some kind of financial penalty.
- The plan would likely violate an Obama campaign pledge not to increase taxes on families earning less than $250,000 a year.
Obama's loyal servants at The New York Times and other liberal news outlets have assiduously avoided using the word "tax" in reference to the new plan, opting for the less emotionally charged term: "fee". And they have carefully refrained from pointing out that any new tax on the private health insurance industry will ultimately and inevitably be paid by individual policy holders.
The AP has taken the obfuscation one step further and has assured us that all laws of economics will be suspended and that consumers will be virtually insulated from the impact of the tax. They even quote a mystery entity: "If insurance companies passed the new fee along to customers, they would run the risk of losing out in a newly competitive environment, a source said." Hmm...a source, now I'm convinced!
Some liberals have been surprisingly honest. Ezra Klein, for example: "...we're taxing insurance companies rather than workers, even though the end result will be the same." Bottom line — new taxes on the middle class.
Let's not forget Obama's solemn statements:
Exhibit A: "But let me perfectly clear, because I know you’ll hear the same old claims that rolling back these tax breaks means a massive tax increase on the American people: if your family earns less than $250,000 a year, you will not see your taxes increased a single dime. I repeat: not one single dime."
Exhibit B: "On health care reform, the American people are too often offered two extremes — government-run health care with higher taxes or letting the insurance companies operate without rules. Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe both of these extremes are wrong."
Final words...watch for the new language:
Fee = Tax
Medicare Savings = Medicare Cuts
Government Organized = Government Run
Fair = Unprofitable
Competition = Regulation
Accountability = Government Control
Marketplace = Political Scheme