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The Baucus Debacle

September 29, 2009
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Thanks to the RNC for this post!

THE RETURN OF CHAOS!

After Months Of Work, Baucus’ Government-Run Health Care Lands “With A Decided Thud”

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SEN. MAX BAUCUS (D-MT): “This is a good bill. This is a balanced bill. This can pass the Senate.” (Rachel Slajda, “Baucus: ‘This Is A Good Bill’ That Can Pass The Senate,” Talking Points Memo “Live Wire” Blog, 9/16/09)

NBC’S BRIAN WILLIAMS ON BAUCUS’ BILL: “This landed with a decided thud today.” (NBC’s “Nightly News,” 9/16/09)

AT LEAST 15 SENATE DEMOCRATS ARE UNITED AGAINST BAUCUS’ BILL

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) Baucus’ Bill, Says Americans Will Be Hit With “Big, Big Tax.” “He should understand that (his proposal) means that virtually every single coal miner is going to have a big, big tax put on them … So that’s not really a smart idea … in fact, it’s a very dangerous idea …” (Teddy Davis, “Dem Senator Warns Of ‘Big, Big Tax’ On Middle Class In Baucus Bill,” ABC News’s “The Note” Blog, 9/16/09)

Sen. Roland Burris (D-IL) Opposes Bill Without Public Option. “I firmly believe in a public option and will oppose any bill that does not include one. Illinoisans have seen their insurance premiums skyrocket, while more and more families lose their coverage every day.” (Chris Frates, “Burris: Won’t Vote For A Bill Without A Public Option,” Politico’s “Live Pulse” Blog, 9/16/09)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) Says Bill Has Long Way To Go Before He Can Support It. “While this draft bill is a good starting point, it needs improvement before it will work for Nevada. During this time of economic crisis, our state cannot afford to shoulder the second highest increase in Medicaid funding. I spoke to the Chair of the Finance Committee and he assured me that this bill will be improved for Nevada before he takes it to the committee for final mark-up next week. Let me be very clear, I will not bring a health insurance reform bill to the Senate floor that is not good for Nevada.” (Chris Frates, “Reid: Baucus Committed To Change Medicaid Formula,” Politico’s “Live Pulse” Blog, 9/16/09)

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) Doesn’t Think Bill Makes Insurance Affordable. “Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.) vowed to seek additional subsidies, or possibly a new tax break, aimed at helping working families, when the bill comes before committee. ‘Fundamentally, we’re doing this for American families, and we need to make sure this is affordable,’ she said.” (“Democrats Worry Bill Will Cost Families Too Much,” The Wall Street Journal, 9/16/09 )

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) Says Bill “Real Hit On Middle-Class Families.” “Sen. Ron Wyden (D., Ore.) complained the legislation would ask working Americans to commit as much as 13% of their income to buy basic insurance. ‘Additional steps are going to have to be taken to make coverage more affordable,’ he said. ‘That’s a real hit on middle-class families.'” (“Baucus Crafts Health Care Plan, But Senate Democrats Have Concerns,” The Wall Street Journal, 9/15/09)

Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) Says 35 Percent Tax On Benefits “An Eye-Popping Number.” SCARBOROUGH: “What do you think about the 35% surcharge that Lawrence O’Donnell talked about?” SEN. BAYH: “Well, 35% is an eye-popping number. I want to take a look at that.” (MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” 9/16/09)

Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) Might Vote To Filibuster Bill. “Freshman Mark Begich, D-Alaska, said it is too early for him to say whether he could support the bill in its current form or whether he would vote for cloture. ‘One thing I’ve learned as a new member here, you don’t give any votes up until you figure out what the value is,’ Begich said. ‘Right now, giving a cloture vote up could put Alaska at risk, and I’m not sure I’d be willing to do that until I know what the full bill says.'” (Kathleen Hunter and Greg Vadala, “Moderate Democrats Encouraged By Baucus’ Health Care Overhaul,” CQ Today, 9/16/09)

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) Says She Will Not Support Bill Because It Taxes Health Care Benefits. “Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) on Monday stated her opposition to a health insurance tax on individuals, adding she would not vote for any bill that raised revenue by those means. … ‘The fee goes to the insurance companies, and that seems to be something that’s won some bipartisan support, so I’m going to look at that,’ Boxer told MSNBC. ‘But no, we will not be taxing healthcare benefits, and I would not support taxing healthcare benefits.'” (Tony Romm, “Boxer Would Not Support Healthcare Tax On Individuals,” The Hill’s “Briefing Room” Blog, 9/14/09)

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) Against Cuts To Medicare Advantage In Bill. “I will offer an amendment to grandfather in all the senior citizens on Medicare so they’re not going to be cut from Medicare Advantage. I’ll be offering an amendment to get a lot of money – a ton of money – from the pharmaceutical companies when they sell to Medicare. By having rebates like they do to the 49 million people in Medicaid. I want the same kind of rebates for the 4 million people in Medicare.” (Chris Frates, “Sen. Bill Nelson: Protect Seniors Covered By Medicare Advantage Plans,” Politico’s “Live Pulse” Blog, 9/16/09)

Sen. Thomas Carper (D-DE) Worries Tax On Benefits Will Be Passed To Consumers. “‘My hope is that the competition, those market forces, will compel them not to pass along all of the [tax to consumers], perhaps a portion of it,’ Sen. Thomas Carper (D-Del.) told CNBC. ‘Some may, some may not.'” (Tony Romm, “Carper: Healthcare Surtax Could Affect Plan Holders,” The Hill’s “Briefing Room” Blog, 9/16/09)

Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) Doesn’t Trust Consumer Protections In The Bill: “Here’s some of the concerns. You mentioned the public option, that not being in the bill. I’m a strong supporter from day one of that. I think it’s good for competition and choice. But also I have some concerns I think that reflect not only the people of Pennsylvania, but I think people across the country. One is insurance reform or consumer protection is a better way to say it. What happens to the pre-existing condition problem that has affected millions of people? Just that one problem, millions of people have been adversely impacted. We have to make those kinds of practices illegal in my judgment. I’m not sure this does it.” (MSNBC’s “Live,” 9/16/09)

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) Vows Fight For Government-Run “Public Option.” “‘Mark my word — I’m the chairman — it’s going to have a strong public option,’ Harkin said his annual Harkin Steak Fry fundraiser, according to the Iowa Independent… Harkin’s position stands in contrast to the work continuing in the Senate Finance Committee, the other Senate group responsible for writing health care.” (Stephanie Condon, “New Sen. Health Panel Chair Endorses Public Option,” CBS News’ “Political Hotsheet” Blog, 9/14/09)

Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) Doesn’t Want Medical Device and Diagnostic Product Manufactures To Pay Billions In New Taxes. “Senator John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, challenged Mr. Baucus’s plan to help finance coverage of the uninsured by imposing $4 billion a year in fees on manufacturers of medical devices and diagnostic products.” (Robert Pear and David Herszenhorn, “Senate Health Bill Draws Fire On Both Sides,” The New York Times, 9/15/09)

Sens. Amy Klobuchar And Al Franken (D-MN): Medical Device Tax “Will Seriously Threaten Thousands Of American Jobs And Deter Innovation.” “In a letter to Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, the Minnesota Democrats claimed the proposed $4 billion tax ‘will seriously threaten thousands of American jobs and deter innovation’ in the heavily research-focused device industry.” (“Klobuchar, Franken Oppose Device-Firm Tax,” Star Tribune, 9/16/09)

AND LIBERAL GROUPS SAY BAUCUS’ BILL NOT BIG ENOUGH GOVERNMENT TAKEOVER

“Health Care For America Now” Rips Baucus’ Bill As Failure. “Richard Kirsch, national campaign manager of Health Care for America Now, also offered a stinging critique: ‘The Baucus bill is a gift to the insurance industry that fails to meet the most basic promise of health care reform: a guarantee that Americans will have good health care that they can afford. The Baucus bill would give a government-subsidized monopoly to the private insurance industry to sell their most profitable plans — high-deductible insurance — without having to face competition from a public health insurer.'” (Rick Klein, “Liberals Blast Baucus Plan,” ABC News’s “The Note” Blog, 9/16/09)

MoveOn.org Criticizes Bill For Lack Of Government-Run Health Insurance Option. “Justin Ruben, executive director of MoveOn.org, called the [Baucus] bill a ‘dream come true for the insurance industry,’ and was particularly critical of the lack of a public option in the measure. ‘The Baucus bill will not solve the health care crisis that plagues millions of Americans, and fails to meet the basic tenets on successful reform laid out by President Obama,’ Ruben said in a statement. ‘The insurance companies have found their champion in Senator Baucus.  The only good news is that the senator stands nearly alone in supporting his bill.'” (Rick Klein, “Liberals Blast Baucus Plan,” ABC News’s “The Note” Blog, 9/16/09)

National Coalition On Health Care Doubts It “Would Achieve Affordable, Quality Health Care Reform For Everyone.” “The National Coalition on Health Care, an umbrella organization that’s working on behalf of Democratic reform efforts, issued a statement expressing ‘deep disappointment’ in the draft being offered by Baucus, D-Mont. ‘We do not believe that this plan would achieve affordable, quality health care reform for everyone. Very importantly, it does not appear to incorporate the necessary short-term and long-term cost containment measures that would make a new health care reform law sustainable,’ the coalition said.” (Rick Klein, “Liberals Blast Baucus Plan,” ABC News’s “The Note” Blog, 9/16/09)

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