Thursday, June 04, 2009

Health care reform update

  • According to the White House blog, the President spelled out his health reform vision yesterday in a letter to Senators Ted Kennedy and Max Baucus. His letter talks about his support for universal coverage , for establishing a health insurance exchange similar to the FEHBP except that unlike the FEHBP the health insurance exchange would include a public plan option, and hold down Medicare spending by adopting Medpac recommendations. It's a tall order.

  • The New York Times report notes that the President's letter "did not use the terms 'individual mandate' and 'employer mandate,' which suggest a degree of coercion that Democrats try to avoid implying."

  • The Politico reports that on views from the other side of the Senate aisle -- "It wasn't helpful," Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, said of the president's letter. "Words make a difference, and it made a difference."

  • Modern Healthcare reports that Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus who had been low keying the public plan option, is falling in line with the President's strong support for the public plan option. According to that report,
    "Baucus ** * hinted that a public option would likely look and feel more like a private plan, adhering to open-market principles and “where the government’s thumb is very, very light. Nevertheless, many Republicans say they remain unswayed in their opposition. “Our caucus is very, very much against a public option,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the senior Republican on the Finance Committee. He also said that provisions requiring employers to pay an added tax if they don’t offer health coverage to their workers are also dealbreakers. “And that’s all you can say,” he said.
    Similarly, the New York Times reports that "the 51-member Blue Dog Coalition [of House Democrats}, said the public plan should be available only as a backup [similar to Medicare Part D], if private insurers did not rein in costs and offer affordable coverage to everyone." June may prove to be an interesting month.

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