Baucus Presents Health Bill
Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) released his l0ng-awaited healthcare legislation and was rewarded for his efforts with criticism from Democrats and Republicans. After months spent trying to create a bipartisan bill, the three Republicans and three Democrats on the committee known as the “Gang of Six” couldn’t reach an agreement, so the chair stood alone when he presented his draft.
The 220-page document calls for individual mandates, but doesn’t mandate that employers provide coverage. However, employers with more than 50 workers that don’t offer insurance would pay a penalty of up to $400 per full-time to reimburse the government for the employee’s healthcare affordability tax credit. The bill expands Medicaid to cover low-income adults; and would impose a fee on insurers that offer “Cadillac” health insurance plans. It does not create a public, or government health plan, option to compete with private insurers but does call for health insurance cooperatives.
Some Senate Democrats have balked at the individual mandate, which would require individuals and families that don’t get coverage to pay respective penalties of up to $950 and $3,800 per year.
Many Republicans have said they won’t support the bill. Sen. Olympia Snowe, one of the gang members, says she’ll keep working on the bipartisan effort, “but a number of issues still need to be addressed — including cost assumptions and ultimate affordability to both consumers and the government as well as ensuring appropriate competition in the health insurance exchange.”