Baucus' Number One Goal Is A Bill That Just Looks Pretty

A new article in The Hill about Medicaid expansion speaks volumes about why Baucus is the wrong person to write health care reform. He is quoted as saying:
“We can’t foot the entire bill for the states. We just can’t do that,” Baucus said. “We can’t let U.S. taxpayers pay the full state bill” for the expansion.
This claim is stupidity in its purist form, and I know Baucus is not stupid. It is not like states' revenue comes from magical pots of gold. Whether through state taxes or federal taxes, the U.S. taxpayer will be paying the bill either way. People don't care if their higher taxes are the result a new federal tax or just a federal mandate that causes an increase in their states' taxes.

What Baucus is really saying is that it is more important that his bill looks good instead of being good. Looking at his top priorities it is clear his number one goal is that the he writes a bill that looks pretty. He wants it to be “bipartisan.” He wants it to come in below the random (but pretty) round number of a $1 trillion. He wants his bill to be “paid for.”

The problem is that Baucus achieves his goal of a pretty bill in the worst ways possible. Instead of looking for real reforms to drive down cost, he uses short cuts, loopholes, budget tricks, and cost shifts.

Covering the uninsured costs a lot of money, so Baucus “reduces” the cost of his bill by simply leaving some 17 million Americans uninsured. Real health insurance is expensive, so Baucus just watered down the minimum definition of what qualifies as insurance. Expanding Medicaid would require a large financial commitment, so Baucus just shifts the price tag off of his bill and on to the state budgets. To make his bill cost less than $1 trillion over 10 years, he only expands coverage for 7 of the 10 years.

Baucus' is writing a bad health care reform bill because he has all the wrong priorities. He is more focused on optics than on quality. Instead of making his goal to provide every American with affordable insurance, he has placed more importance on writing a bill that looks good. His bill will appear cheap but at a great cost to the working class Americans who really need help.

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