Monday, 14 September 2009

Baucus may unveil his bill tomorrow

We could still get the public option. Howard Dean correctly points out that we can get the public option through reconciliation – we have the votes. According to CNN, Obama’s approvals jumped 5 points after the big speech, and Obama still quite confident: he will appear on five different news shows Sunday…When was the last time any politician had the guts to face the whole gauntlet, the toughest interviewers in the business? (Obama meets the press more than just about any president in history -- brass balls, no fear) The Post poll shows that the wingnut-driven fear of health reform has peaked and that Obama is succeeding, somewhat, in shooting down the GOP lies (the Post poll suggests that support for the public option skyrockets if it is limited to those who can’t get private insurance, an option which Obama seems to be considering). So Obama could get the public option if he pushed hard for it.

Obama doesn’t want a weak, ineffective bill, and he does want the public option – that’s why he keeps harping on it, when it would be so much easier to give in and switch to the coop plan. But he is still keeping his options open – Axelrod at first stated that Obama isn’t willing to accept a plan that does not include a public option, but apparently he amended it to assert that it’s Axelrod, not Obama, who can’t accept it.

Obama may, in the end, accept the coops. Snowe, who originally advocated the trigger option, is now talking coop; likewise Collins rejects not only the public option but also any trigger that leads to a public option, which also suggests coops. Pelosi is bracing her troops for the possibility that the final plan won’t include a public option, to keep Obama’s options open, although progressives are still pushing to meet with Obama to push for the public option.

While all this is going on, Baucus may unveil his bill tomorrow. Unlike the other four bills which have passed through committee, Baucus’ plan involves coops, not the public option.

As I noted before, there are a number of things that need to be included in any coop plan:

And based on the rough draft of the Baucus plan which we’ve seen, there are a number of things that need to be fixed in it. Most of all, Baucus must ensure that the coop is always there and affordable for everybody: he needs national or regional coops, to ensure real competition and low cost, and stem the flow of windfall profits to the insurers; the federal safety net must be there permanently (Baucus says coops must be nonprofit AND self-sustaining after only a year); and Baucus can’t demand that people pay 13 percent of their income for health coverage. Also, Baucus needs more language on fixing Medicare fraud, and the state-level sweetheart deals for the private insurers must go.

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