All Eyes on Baucus’ Health Care Plan

By Beacon Staff

On the eve of President Barack Obama’s speech to the nation on health care, Montana Sen. Max Baucus is at the negotiating table trying to sell his plan that includes new fees on some sectors of the health care industry to offset initial costs of reform. <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/09/health/policy/09health.html?hp" title="From the New York Times“>From the New York Times:

The plan, circulating among some committee members of both parties, would also offer the option of lower-cost insurance, with protection only against the costs of catastrophic illnesses, to those 25 and younger. In addition, it would provide basic Medicaid coverage to millions of low-income people who are currently ineligible for the program, but the benefits would be less comprehensive than standard Medicaid.

Mr. Baucus was trying on Tuesday to win support from the three Republicans and two other Democrats on his committee with whom he has been deliberating for months.
Ultimately, however, he will need a majority of the committee’s 23 members, several of whom are resentful at being excluded.

The <a href="http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2009/09/08/baucuss-health-plan-targets-industry/" title="Wall Street Journal highlights other details”>Wall Street Journal highlights other details in Baucus’ plan that may prove controversial:

Like other bills, the proposal from Baucus, chairman of the Finance Committee, would require most people to carry health insurance. But it slaps higher penalties on those who refuse, ranging from $750 for the poorest single people to as high as $3,800 a year for families. By contrast, employers wouldn’t be required to provide coverage for employees. They would only have to pay a contribution for employees who get tax credits to buy individual insurance.

Doctors may be irked by some of the payment changes in the Baucus plan. In particular, one measure seeks to give primary-care doctors higher Medicare payments, and funding it by cutting payments to other doctors.

Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.

Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.