by Bruce Webb
The Friday 5 p.m. deadline has passed for filing amendments to the health care legislation in the Senate Finance Committee, and aides to Senator Max Baucus have finished tallying them: 543 in all, from both Democrats and Republicans.
Senator John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia will propose the creation of a government-run insurance plan. So will Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, but with careful rules to make sure that the public plan competes with private insurers on a level playing field.
Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon will propose a requirement that employers offer at least two different choices of health insurance, or provide vouchers that would let their workers shop for alternatives in a new, government-regulated insurance marketplace. Mr. Wyden has another amendment that would expand eligibility for subsidies to help people buy insurance, by raising the income cutoff to 400 percent of poverty from 300 percent of poverty, which for a family of four would be $88,200, instead of $66,150.
Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington will propose increasing the income cutoff for Medicaid to 200 percent of poverty, or $44,100 for a family of four. And Ms. Cantwell also has an amendment that would revamp Medicare payments to doctors, hospitals and other providers to reward high-quality, lower-cost care.
Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey will push to lower a cap on the amount moderate-income families will have to pay in health insurance premiums to 10 percent of income, down from 13 percent. Senator Debbie Stabenow wants to push the cap even lower, to 6.5 percent of income.
It looks like Baucus’s hopes of cutting a deal with Republicans and just bypassing the concerns of liberals on Finance just ran up on a rock.
As the poet might have said: “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ Max aft gang agley”
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