Today Sept. 16, 2009, Senator Max Baucus of Montana, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, released the first draft of the committee’s long awaited proposed legislation to overhaul the country’s health care system. The proposal is the result of more than a year of preparation and more than three months of intense negotiations between a small group of Democrats and Republicans led by Senator Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana, the chairman of the Finance Committee.
The following are a few highlights of interest included in this 223 page proposal:
The bill includes a slimmed down price-tag of $856 billion over 10 years. Earlier versions of the health care legislation had come in costing $1 trillion or more
13 percent. That’s the share of family income that the Baucus plan envisions middle-class American families having to pay in health insurance premiums before co-payments, deductibles and other cost-sharing.
bill as proposed seeks to extend health coverage to more than 30 million uninsured American citizens. To do so, it would broadly expand Medicaid, the state-federal insurance program for the poor, and provide government subsidies to modest-income individuals and families to help them buy coverage.
The bill has no public option. Instead, it would expand coverage by creating a network of state-based non-profit health insurance cooperatives. These cooperatives would be seeded with $6 billion in federal money, enough to cover start-up costs and meet insurance insolvency requirements.
All of the insurance plans in the exchange would have to meet strict new government requirements. Insurance companies could not bar coverage based on pre-existing medical conditions, and could only increase the cost of premiums based on a small number of factors, like age, tobacco use and whether a plan is for an individual or a family.
The Baucus health care proposal is now called the America’s Healthy Future Act of 2009
For those who would like additional insight into the thinking of Senator Max Baucus and his Committee regarding health care issues we are also including a link to The Call to Action: Health Care Reform 2009, a white paper released by Senator Baucus and his Committee on November 12, 2008.