Baucus Asks Democrats To Commit Political Suicide

The New York Times ran a story that outlines Baucus' health care proposal. According to the story:
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.
Now that sounds like two big political winners right there. $850 billion is a few hundred billion short of the amount you would need to provide every American with decent, somewhat affordable health insurance. This means Baucus' plan will either leave tens of million of Americans uninsured and/or force tens of millions of Americans to be under insured with very expensive policies. But reducing the cost of reform is a super smart political move. All the rowdy townhall teabaggers were super pissed at a $1.2 trillion health care plan, but I'm sure with only a $900 billion price tag they will calm down and take an open-minded look at the proposal.

Encouraging employers to switch to less generous health care package should also go over very well. Not only does it break Obama's promise, “that if you like what you have you can keep it,” but it means that reform will result in many Americans' health insurance getting worse.
Another section of Mr. Baucus’s proposal would help pay insurance premiums, co-payments and deductibles for people with incomes less than 300 percent of the poverty level ($66,150 for a family of four). It would also provide some protection for people with incomes from 300 percent to 400 percent of the poverty level (up to $88,200 for a family of four), so they would generally not have to pay more than 13 percent of their income in premiums...

Mr. Baucus would impose limits on out-of-pocket medical costs — the co-payments, deductibles and similar charges for covered items and services. The limits would be $11,900 a year for a family and $5,950 for an individual. The comparable numbers in the House bill are $10,000 and $5,000.
Forcing people to buy expensive junk insurance will definitely make reform (and Democrats) popular when implemented. If you are a couple in your 40's that runs your own business together making around $45,000, Baucus' plan would force you pay around $6,000 in health insurance premiums for a super bare minimum insurance plan. If you have any serious health care problem your additional out of pocket fees could quickly hit that $11,900 cap. With total health care bills around $18,000 I can just picture the couple thanking Democrats that health care reform made it so that they are only paying 40% of their income on health care.

Of course, Baucus' plan does not contain the very popular public option so there is nothing keeping for-profit health insurance companies from continually increasing their rates.

Millions uninsured, millions more extremely underinsured, employers strongly encouraged to provide millions of Americans with less generous insurance benefits, health care eating up 40% of a family's total income, millions still going bankrupt because of health care, millions forced to pay junk insurance by the IRS. It sounds like a instant success.

Democrats would definitely be making the right move going with what Baucus is proposing. Spending that extra $200-300 billion and including a robust public option so that reform would mean every American will be guaranteed affordable decent health insurance would definitely be a huge political mistake.

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