Obama Stops Democrats From Committing Political Suicide

The lack of the public option, insufficient subsidies, a disastrous “free rider” provision, a large individual mandate, junk insurance options, etc... These are all very bad ideas in Baucus' framework. But the single most politically disastrous part of Baucus' plan is the timeline.

According to Baucus' framework basically nothing happens until 2013 at the earliest. All the consumer protections (ending pre-existing conditions, community ratings, ending rescission) do not fully kick in for everyone until 2022. That is right, 2022. According to the draft, the new consumer protections start for the individual market in 2013. They are not mandated in the small group market (companies with 1-50 employees) until 2018 and not mandated for the larger group market (51-100 employees) until 2022.

Under Baucus' bill going into both the 2010 election and the 2012 election millions of Americans would still be uninsured, pre-existing conditions would still be used by insurance companies to screw Americans. The Democrats would face two elections without a single thing to show for their health care reform efforts. That is pure political suicide.

In the speech Obama promised two very important things last night. He promised that most of the important consumer protections would go into effect quickly: “As soon as I sign this bill, it will be against the law for insurance companies to drop your coverage when you get sick or water it down when you need it the most.”

He also promised some form of catastrophic insurance until the real reform starts in 2013: “In the meantime, for those Americans who can't get insurance today because they have preexisting medical conditions, we will immediately offer low-cost coverage that will protect you against financial ruin if you become seriously ill.”

This will give Democrats at least something tangible to show voters between now and 2013. I still think it is a very bad idea to delay many of the important reforms for so many years, but at least there will be some noticeable improvements to brag about in the mean time.

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