The Baucus Bill: Starting Point or Sham?

With Max Baucus’s health care reform proposal in the public arena now, there are options we must consider.  Paul Krugman, in his Op-Ed in the New York Times today, points out that Baucus’s plan is a starting point.  At least something is now on the table.  Overall, Krugman believes that this specific plan is nowhere near what we really need, but it does offer a substantive place where bargaining can begin:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/18/opinion/18krugman.html?_r=1&ref=global-home

On the other hand, Robert Reich has written a piece on his website that begs Olympia Snowe to vote against the Baucus plan.  I tend toward support of Reich’s ideas:

http://robertreich.blogspot.com/2009/09/why-olympia-snowe-should-vote-against.html

Reich’s premise that “Max Baucus’s plan — which is favored by the medical-industrial complex because it dramatically increases their customer base without a public option that squeezes their profits” says it all.  I do understand that we cannot jump from an absolutely private insurance scenario directly to universal, single payer plan.  In terms of costs and fear of government takeover, it just is not possible —- yet.  That is why it is so important to offer a public option at this time, as it would serve as the intermediate step between totally privately covered health care and a single payer system.   Certainly, Baucus’s proposal changes nothing in terms of fostering real competition regarding care and costs, and is definitely a cave-in to the private insurance industry.  With no consideration given to lowering premiums, I daresay that if the Baucus plan should come into being, we will see a swell of the Medicaid roles like we have never seen before.  Mainly, because there are no mechanisms for controlling the profits of the insurance companies, many middle class people and thirty-somethings will have to fall into the ranks of those covered by Medicaid.  Baucus’s plan does not address the issues at hand.  What difference will it make if the Baucus plan makes insurance mandatory if the majority of the people still cannot afford it?  That is the fly in the ointment.  Semantics versus reality.

Olympia Snowe should remember her constituency in Maine and their needs and vote a big, fat “NO” on the Baucus bill.  Maybe these photos will remind her of where she is from and what her people need:

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Lupine in Fall

Lupine in Fall

Septmber's Light

Septmber's Light

Ferns at my Door

Ferns at my Door

If democracy boils down to “process”, actually getting a bill out there so that compromise and bargaining can commence, very good for the Baucus bill.  However, if democracy is about “results”, i.e. responding to the true needs of the people  and not to the needs of our politicians and corporate interests, this bill is practically useless.  Is the Baucus bill just raucous attempt at placating our needy population by guaranteeing them the benefits they so desparately need, or is it a cover-up, offering these benefits at a cost that the majority still can not afford?  Silly, asinine lawmakers: keep your words and give us life-sustaining benefits at a cost that we can afford.

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