Baucus Courts President Snowe

NYTimes on the Baucus health care plan:

People familiar with Mr. Baucusís plan said it was calculated to appeal to Senator Olympia J. Snowe, Republican of Maine. . . .

Mr. Baucusís plan . . . would tax insurance companies on their most expensive health care policies. . . . Another section of Mr. Baucusís proposal would help pay insurance premiums, co-payments and deductibles for people with incomes less than 300 percent of the poverty level . . . Mr. Baucusís proposal does not include a ďtrigger mechanismĒ [or a public plan.] Coverage under Mr. Baucusís plan would, by some measures, be less extensive than the least generous of three levels envisioned in a bill approved by three House committees.

In short, "competition" is not included in the Baucus proposal. President Obama's supposed insistence on "competition" is not a Baucus concern. Apparently, only President Snowe is Baucus's concern. This seems a pretty clumsy non-starter at first blush and not really helpful on any front. Time will tell.

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    It took a year for Baucas and crew (5.00 / 3) (#1)
    by MO Blue on Mon Sep 07, 2009 at 09:31:40 AM EST
    to produce this - this .............

    Complete give away to the insurance industry. Would do more to damage affordable health care than help by moving the insurance industry's coverage to under 70% (65% - 35% split mentioned in other articles).

    I vote for no legislation if this is an example of what will be in the final bill.

    Odd, "a last ditch effort to give the Senate (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by KeysDan on Mon Sep 07, 2009 at 09:47:01 AM EST
    a bipartisan bill", by proposing a new fee on insurance companies--a sure-fire way to drive Republicans and their masters, the insurance companies, into the welcoming arms of Rush, et.al.  So this olympian idea, as so right concluded, is for the good senator from Maine.  Another component of the proposal, much less clear in intent, is just where the new insurance fees fit into the revenue scheme.  Is it in lieu of new taxes on family incomes over $500,000"?  A more realistic assessment of "savings" from Medicare cut-backs? Or a mix?  And, why tease this new tax out as for "the uninsured" rather than as support for comprehensive health care reform?

    Not (none / 0) (#6)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Mon Sep 07, 2009 at 09:50:26 AM EST
    to mention that this "fee" will simply be passed on to consumers in the form of increased premiums -- especially if insurance is mandated.

    LOL, sounds good on "paper," but actually completely stupid.  In other words, we agree ;-).


    Just giving one more negative (none / 0) (#15)
    by MO Blue on Mon Sep 07, 2009 at 10:10:47 AM EST
    talking point to the Republicans. In fact, they are already using it in the article.

    Insurers and many Republicans in Congress oppose the fees, saying they would be passed on to families and employers who buy insurance. Robert E. Zirkelbach, a spokesman for America's Health Insurance Plans, a trade group, said the fees would "make coverage less affordable."

    Exactly!!! n/t (none / 0) (#48)
    by imhotep on Mon Sep 07, 2009 at 02:58:07 PM EST
    That was exactly my first (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by kenosharick on Mon Sep 07, 2009 at 10:11:57 AM EST
    thought- gigantic giveaway to the insurance companies. Dems will pay a huge political price if they do this; how can they win in 2010 if the base (me included) stays home?

    According to CNN (5.00 / 3) (#47)
    by MO Blue on Mon Sep 07, 2009 at 12:40:05 PM EST
    While the proposal excludes a so-called "public option," it would allow for the creation of non-profit health care cooperatives -- an idea which some moderate Democrats and Republicans have expressed possible interest in supporting. CNN

    According to TPM

    Late update: Just a few more details on Baucus' plan. It is expected to cost somewhere in the vicinity of $850 and $900 billion, to be paid for with efficiencies wrung from Medicare and Medicaid, along with a tax on insurance companies aimed at their high-end health care policies.

    Notice that there are no taxes on the very rich anywhere to be found. Goldman Sachs has 400 or so top execs that the bank pays $40,543 in premiums annually for each participant's family. link Won't you be happy to pay higher health insurance premiums to provide these poor people with great coverage.


    I don't think they worked very hard (none / 0) (#7)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Sep 07, 2009 at 09:51:48 AM EST
    Why would they have to?  All they have to do is say Boo and we must all jump.  And isn't this their whole schtick, that government doesn't work when it gets involved in the overwhelming problems being suffered by the people?  If only I could tolerate being a Republican.  Your supporters are fully behind you when your work is shoddy and 2nd rate, you can say documented insane things, and those who love you still sign those checks until hell freezes over.

    My first thought on this (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by dk on Mon Sep 07, 2009 at 09:52:51 AM EST
    is that if they start out with a bill that bad, they are doing it only so that Obama will be able to brag to progressives that he was able to "twist Snowe's arm" into ultimately agreeing to a trigger in conference, which seems like the endgame at this point.

    Sorry to say (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by MO Blue on Mon Sep 07, 2009 at 10:02:43 AM EST
    that thought had occurred to me soon after reading the article.

    Sounds about right (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by nycstray on Mon Sep 07, 2009 at 10:05:24 AM EST
    Can't wait to hear how they are going to spin this piece of cr*p to us as something we want/have to purchase . . .

    Have you ever known (5.00 / 3) (#10)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Mon Sep 07, 2009 at 09:57:25 AM EST
    a Republican president to cede his presidency to a member of congress ala Obama with President Snowe?

    I suppose I should be happy that we have a woman president now, at least for this health insurance debacle -- err, debate.

    My favorite (5.00 / 5) (#16)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Mon Sep 07, 2009 at 10:11:52 AM EST
    quote from the article:

    Mr. Baucus's plan, expected to cost $850 billion to $900 billion over 10 years, would tax insurance companies on their most expensive health care policies. The hope is that employers would buy cheaper, less generous coverage for employees, thereby reducing the overuse of medical services.

    Is this really an outcome we're looking for from a health "care" reform bill?  If so, shouldn't we take away Congress' own health plan now, since Baucus is implying that people with Cadillac insurance overuse it.

    It's insane isn't it? (5.00 / 4) (#19)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Sep 07, 2009 at 10:14:28 AM EST
    The overuse of medical services

    And not a "free market" (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Sep 07, 2009 at 10:18:04 AM EST
    perspective either.  But it is flatly dishonest and is not meant to make sense because that isn't the goal....to make sense.

    That's beyond insane (5.00 / 2) (#23)
    by nycstray on Mon Sep 07, 2009 at 10:22:57 AM EST
    what planet are these people living on?!

    So, one thing to do (none / 0) (#2)
    by andgarden on Mon Sep 07, 2009 at 09:41:31 AM EST
    is to make sure that this bill fails a committee vote.

    We need to get the bill voted out (none / 0) (#3)
    by WS on Mon Sep 07, 2009 at 09:46:19 AM EST
    of the Finance Committee.  The bill still needs to be merged with the HELP Committee bill and will also (finally) lessen Grassley, Enzi, and Baucus's influence on the legislation.  Snowe will probably still be there to be courted though if Obama really wants her vote as has been written.  

    We do NOT want (5.00 / 3) (#5)
    by andgarden on Mon Sep 07, 2009 at 09:47:48 AM EST
    the liberals on the Finance committee to vote for a bill this bad, ever.

    In other words, if this is the "bipartisan (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by andgarden on Mon Sep 07, 2009 at 09:51:50 AM EST
    compromise" let the Republicans pass it out of committee with Conrad, Lincoln, Carper, and Baucus.

    Agreed (5.00 / 2) (#11)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Sep 07, 2009 at 09:57:39 AM EST
    In a way, this is a litmus test on the public option for Dems on that committee.

    The Finance Committee does not have to pass out a bill for a bill to get to the floor under reconciliation.


    Here's an interesting question (none / 0) (#12)
    by andgarden on Mon Sep 07, 2009 at 10:01:44 AM EST
    Does the Senate have to pass its own bill at all in order to use reconciliation? I would think that the omnibus nature of a budget bill would mean not.

    I think you are right (none / 0) (#18)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Sep 07, 2009 at 10:13:55 AM EST
    All that needs pass is a conference bill I think.

    But Kagro would know.


    The Senate needs to pass (none / 0) (#20)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Sep 07, 2009 at 10:16:01 AM EST
    a conference bill?  I'm trying to understand what is really in play now.

    House-Senate conference report. (none / 0) (#22)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Sep 07, 2009 at 10:21:11 AM EST
    Thank you (none / 0) (#24)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Sep 07, 2009 at 10:24:55 AM EST
    And what that contains is what we will actually be getting?  Or at least that is the allowable logical process that could be followed in order to actually get us the bill we need?

    That's what we will be getting (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Sep 07, 2009 at 10:28:35 AM EST
    no matter what.

    The question are these: First and foremost, will this be a reconciliation issue? where you only need 50 Senate votes (with Biden breaking the tie)? OR a normal bill which will require 60 Senate votes.

    Second, does the Senate have to have a bill passed to take to conference? Can it just be a blank piece of paper authorizing conference? My understanding is it can just be an authorization to go to conference with no substance. Or at most, fig leaf substance.


    My understanding (none / 0) (#27)
    by andgarden on Mon Sep 07, 2009 at 10:31:15 AM EST
    is that Omnibus reconciliation only requires that a bill pass ONE house to be eligible. So it might be that the Senate doesn't need to take any action until the final vote.

    One other virtue of omnibus reconciliation is that I believe it gives you more flexibility on who serves in the conference committee.


    Reconciliation (none / 0) (#37)
    by SGITR on Mon Sep 07, 2009 at 11:17:24 AM EST
    has to come out of the appropriate committees of each house via reconciliation instructions and then be passed on to the Budget Committee of each house before going to conference.

    Not sure that is correct (none / 0) (#38)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Sep 07, 2009 at 11:20:11 AM EST
    I am pretty sure that can be overridden by the Leader.

    Would a possible override require (none / 0) (#41)
    by WS on Mon Sep 07, 2009 at 11:29:01 AM EST
    unanimous consent or can be unilaterally done?  Any one know a Senate parliamentarian?

    I think the Rule 14 is the one in question (none / 0) (#43)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Sep 07, 2009 at 11:36:20 AM EST
    If I recall correctly, (none / 0) (#45)
    by WS on Mon Sep 07, 2009 at 11:41:42 AM EST
    Rule 14 sends a bill directly to the floor skipping the committee process.  

    I remember the method used during the immigration debates but that requires 60 votes because Republicans can filibuster the debate to start debate meaning cloture is needed to end debate on the use of Rule 14.

    I don't know if budget bills are exempt from a Rule 14 filibuster though.    


    The media (none / 0) (#29)
    by WS on Mon Sep 07, 2009 at 10:36:39 AM EST
    will crow about the imminent death of health care reform if Democratic infighting sinks a Finance Committee bill in committee.  It'll throw more chaos into an already chaotic legislative process.  

    The bill needs stability and the aura of inevitability for the best chances of a good bill.  We can still have reconciliation even if the Finance Committee passes something out of committee.  


    I disagree (5.00 / 5) (#31)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Sep 07, 2009 at 10:40:38 AM EST
    It will mean that the public option MUST be in a HCR bill and the question then becomes can President Obama round up enough votes in the Senate to get it done.

    That is where I want this to be.


    Me too (none / 0) (#32)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Sep 07, 2009 at 10:44:25 AM EST
    Hmmm, you have a point but (none / 0) (#33)
    by WS on Mon Sep 07, 2009 at 10:51:13 AM EST
    that's what the House is for.  I realize the White House and the Senate can tag team the House to pass a bill for the good of the Party but a similar Progressive Block possibly led by Sen. Brown and Sanders can demand a public option for a merged Senate bill without the media concern trolling that would ensue if the Health Care bill is defeated in the Finance committee.  

    I believe that (none / 0) (#34)
    by SGITR on Mon Sep 07, 2009 at 11:00:17 AM EST
    the Senate does have to pass a bill in order to go to conference. The reasoning is fairly simple. Conference's purpose is to negotiate a compromise bill that each house can agree to. If the Senate has passed no bill there is nothing to negotiate and compromise on.

    Without the Senate passing a bill what we would have is something that occurs quite often. And that is one house taking up an issue and passing a bill and the other house not taking up that issue at all. In that case legislation on that issue dies.


    Not true in an omnibus situation (none / 0) (#35)
    by andgarden on Mon Sep 07, 2009 at 11:02:02 AM EST
    I believe you are incorrect (none / 0) (#40)
    by SGITR on Mon Sep 07, 2009 at 11:28:33 AM EST
    I've read summaries of the reconciliation process at the sites of both houses. Perhaps in a straight Omnibus spending bill you are correct but when the reconciliation process is introduced it appears the rules are different.

    I think an omnibus (none / 0) (#42)
    by WS on Mon Sep 07, 2009 at 11:35:35 AM EST
    is created by merging all the appropriations bills (or certain appropriations bills) together into one bill.  The 12 appropriations bills are found here.  

    For there to be budget reconciliation, wouldn't they have to discuss these budget bills and pass them in the Senate? Or can something be deemed part of the budget and use reconciliation on that?  I'm confused on that part.  

    After a hypothetical reconciliation, then it goes to conference with the House, right?


    I'll just say this for now (none / 0) (#46)
    by SGITR on Mon Sep 07, 2009 at 11:46:17 AM EST
    If HCR is going to require being merged with the proposed budget of the government then we will see no vote on it this year. In addition if you think getting the right bill passed stand alone is difficult just think of the complications of trying to include it with the nations budget.

    They can pass a piece of paper (none / 0) (#36)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Sep 07, 2009 at 11:10:51 AM EST
    and call it a bill.

    Essentially how the Republicans (none / 0) (#39)
    by andgarden on Mon Sep 07, 2009 at 11:27:17 AM EST
    treated the Senate Medicare part D legislation.

    Then we agree (none / 0) (#44)
    by SGITR on Mon Sep 07, 2009 at 11:40:50 AM EST
    a bill need to be passed.

    As for a piece of paper being a bill remember that if it goes through the regular bill process that piece of paper is sill subject to the filibuster and amendment process which of course the Republicans would do to try to halt our end around.

    So that leaves us with reconciliation and exactly what can and cannot be included in it.


    OT (none / 0) (#26)
    by kmblue on Mon Sep 07, 2009 at 10:29:51 AM EST
    fox network won't carry Obama's speech, but Fox News will.

    I have mixed feelings about this.  On the one hand, I wasn't going to watch anyway.  (Fraid my head will 'splode).  On the other hand, how dare they! ;)

    Fox network routinely opts out (none / 0) (#28)
    by andgarden on Mon Sep 07, 2009 at 10:31:49 AM EST
    of carrying Presidential speeches.

    I think Fox has season openers (none / 0) (#30)
    by nycstray on Mon Sep 07, 2009 at 10:37:57 AM EST
    and the craziness continues. (none / 0) (#49)
    by jean in MN on Mon Sep 07, 2009 at 03:48:10 PM EST
    Baucus. Snow. et al.  The triumph of ideology over reason.