September 17, 2009

Yesterday I caught a few minutes of a very uncomfortable Max Baucus rolling out the Obama-Baucus Bipartisan Health Insurance Reform Bill. You would have thought he got caught in a love triangle with Barney Frank the way he was spitting and sputtering. The cause of his distress is that he birthed a bill so ugly that no Republican in his Gang of Six would touch it with a very long stick. Some highlights from the Wall Street Journal.

The centerpiece of the Obama-Baucus plan is a decree that everyone purchase heavily regulated insurance policies or else pay a penalty. This government mandate would require huge subsidies as well as brute force to get anywhere near the goal of universal coverage. The inevitable result would be a vast increase in the government's share of U.S. health spending, forcing doctors, hospitals, insurance companies and other health providers to serve politics as well as or even over and above patients...

Everyone would be forced to buy these government-approved policies, whether or not they suit their needs or budget. Families would face tax penalties as high as $3,800 a year for not complying, singles $950. As one resident of Massachusetts where Mitt Romney imposed an individual mandate in 2006 put it in a Journal story yesterday, this is like taxing the homeless for not buying a mansion.

This was to be the centrist reform model that would bring democrats together and maybe get some republicans on board. We can stick a fork in this one as it only compounds the mistakes of the house version, will send public opinion lower (if that's possible) and will never make it to the floor for a vote.

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