What Do Finance Committee Members Want From Health-Care Reform?


The CBO is expected to release a final estimate on the cost and coverage effects of the Senate Finance Committee bill this afternoon. Those figures are likely to play a major role in how committee members vote on the bill. Until then, here are the Finance Committee Members' major concerns, as reported by the New York Times:

Senator John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia is upset that a health care bill poised for approval by the Finance Committee would turn nearly a half-trillion dollars over to insurance companies, whose profits he says are "out of sight."

Senator Olympia J. Snowe of Maine worries that the bill would require people to buy insurance they cannot afford. Senator Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas fears that the bill would be too costly for the government.

And Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon warns that the bill would lock many workers into health plans selected by their employers, without allowing them to shop for better, cheaper plans, an alternative that could help drive down costs for everyone.

Too expensive for the government. Too expensive for individuals. Too easy on big corporations. Too restrictive of individual choice. Fully addressing all of these contradictory concerns is almost certainly impossible, and it's a sharp reminder of why political decision making, rather than bringing people together, often ends up leaving everyone unhappy.

NEXT: It's Different When Obama Does It, Part 35

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  1. Well, there is an obvious point about sausage making in there, but I’m sure that ultimately sausage will be declared verboten by our national health czar.

  2. Like any of them are even going to read the thing to see if their concerns are addressed before voting on it.

    Let’s not kid ourselves here. Congress will pass health care “reform” legislation this year, and it will contain a public option and mandatory insurance coverage.

  3. Panelist: You’re probably right that reform will happen. And a mandate is pretty much a given, although it might be with a relatively minimal penalty (say, $200 a year). And I actually think it’s more likely than not that we won’t see a public option, or at least not a strong one with full negotiating powers, etc.

    1. With only a $200 a year fine, and insurance companies required to cover pre-existing conditions, what sane person is going to buy health insurance?

      Maybe those who have it through their employer, since they appear willing to force employers to pay for it. Nevertheless, it might end up being cheaper for employers to suck up the fines than to pay for health insurance.

      And even then, insurance rates are going to rise because fewer people who are healthy will voluntarily buy it and more people who are sick will be effectively subsidized.

      This is going to have perverse effects that I can’t even imagine right now. What happens when employeeing more than 50 people (or whatever the limit is), automatically subjects you to taxes and fines designed to pay for exhorbitant health care for everyone attached to your insurance company?

      I certainly hope it’ll induce many employers to offer HSAs instead of insurance. (If there is even a loophole for that). But I’m not counting on that being the only likely effect.

  4. Also a sharp reminder of what happens when someone asks, “How much will it cost?” and “Who will pay for it?”

    Those pesky questions.

  5. Too many people continue to blithely equate the cost of “insurance” with the cost of “health care”.

    It really pisses me off. None of what these clowns are talking about addresses the things which drive fees out of sight.

  6. DP, I tend to believe it any public option will be latent, to be triggered later, that there will not be a mandate, and that pre-existing conditions will not be a bar to obtaining coverage.

    The ensuing train wreck will, of course, require that more reform be administered, good and hard.

    1. The requirement that insurance companies cover pre-existing conditions is going to be disastrous. And yet it’s something that the GOP is too cowed to disagree with.

  7. OF course people are will be unhappy. There is no perfect solution. Compremises will have to be made, and no one will get everything they want.

    1. Yes, so lets put all the worst possible ideas together into a bag, and stir for a bit, let all the perverse incentives ferment for a while, and viola! A total clusterfuck!

      1. I’m pretty sure you just described the method by which 99.9% of all legislation is created.

  8. Of equal importance is the fact that the bill is likely only going to increase the percentage of insured from around 85% to around 90%, but I expect we’ll find out what the CBO has to say about this later.

  9. I’m not worried. The Chosen One has promised after his election and inauguration that he would veto any health care legislation that wasn’t at least deficit neutral.

    Surely he wasn’t fibbing.

    1. hahaaaahaaahaaaaaahaaaaa *gasp* aaahahahaaaaa…surely not!

  10. I certainly hope it’ll induce many employers to offer HSAs instead of insurance.

    At some point, large corporations may hire their own in-house* doctors, like in the old days.

    *It is entirely possible that this is illegal, in the modern world.

    1. It could probably be done through an employee assistance program. Many large employers already offer health-related benefits through EAPs.

  11. At some point, large corporations may hire their own in-house* doctors, like in the old days.

    And then the government will pass a law requiring the corporate in-house doc to see patients that aren’t employees for free.

    It’s all about providing free healthcare to everyone without rationing. An insane fantasy, and one which WILL result in rationing. It’ll just be indirect ass-covered rationing. Nobody will be accountable for it. The money will just not be there somehow, throguh some set of bureaucratic regulations too obscure for the average voter to understand, with no specific official responsible for making decions. Just a vast anonymous “system” mechanically making life-or-death decisions for individuals who have no other options.

    1. “It’s all about providing free healthcare to everyone without rationing.”

      Well, at least the first part is true. All those votes just waiting to be had.

  12. “OF course people are will be unhappy. There is no perfect solution. Compremises will have to be made, and no one will get everything they want.”

    Man up and die, people. Man up and die.

  13. 1) Remove current subsidies from the health insurance industry and reinvest
    most in the update of healthcare infrastructure, and the creation of a

    2) Mandate that 90 cents of every dollar be used for direct patient care and that up to
    the remaining 10 cents per dollar be used for administrative, overhead, fees,
    surcharges, etc.

    3) Create a HEALTHCARE CREDIT REPORTING AGENCY which sill set a specific
    standard and ratings system using insurers, hospitals, and doctors of proven
    healthcare models that continually show a proven track record of fiscal responsibility and
    maximum use of resources in patient care.

    4) All doctors, hospitals, and insurers must register with this HEALTHCARE CREDIT

    5) All registered doctors, hospitals, and insurers must meet the standard and will receive

    6) All doctors, hospitals, and insurers, must accept preexisting conditions.

    7) Doctors, hospitals, and insurers (doctors,CEO’s, admin.,etc.) bonuses are to be
    held in a company account until end of year evaluations, where if they have been found
    not to have compromised patient care or committed fraudulent billing practices in
    the yearly evaluation conducted by the HEALTHCARE CREDIT REPORTING AGENCY,
    that company, doctor, or hospital and/or its employees will receive their bonuses.

    8) If doctors, hospitals, and insurers have been found to have compromised patient care or
    have been shown to have committed fraudulent billing practices in the yearly evaluation
    conducted by the HEALTHCARE CREDIT REPORTING AGENCY, then bonuses are
    forfeited and said bonuses are placed into an account controlled by the HEALTHCARE
    CREDIT REPORTING AGENCY for use by the AGENCY in improving healthcare
    infrastructure, electronic medical records implementation and other approved projects
    for doctors, hospitals, and insurers who have followed the standard set by the

    9) During the year consumers can report their experiences to the HEALTHCARE
    CREDIT REPORTING AGENCY who will then investigate within 30 days and provide an
    answer to the customer and a response to the doctor, hospital, and insurer, much like a
    creditor does now with a credit reporting agency.

    10) All non-complying doctors, hospitals, and insurers must come up to the set standard or
    lose any and all public funding, receive a lower credit rating, and risk possible fines until
    said deficiencies are corrected.

    The Public Option will not be needed under this plan. Republicans should have no
    argument now. Democrats get on board. I leave the rest of the details to my President
    Obama who I am very proud of.
    Congress, get behind your President.

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