Roundup of News on Federal Health Reform

I’m just going to cut and paste this great compendium of clips about the Baucus white paper, and PriceWaterhouseCoopers report on health reform (signs are encouraging). More later..

  • Congressional Quarterly: Baucus Outlines Health Care Plan The first step would almost certainly be the expansion of federally funded children’s health insurance, known as SCHIP. … Many parts of Baucus’ plan were intentionally left vague, according to Baucus policy aides. Absent, for example, are politically sensitive details on how large a fine would be levied on large employers who do not provide health insurance, how many children would be covered under SCHIP, or even what the plan would cost or how those costs would be offset – all questions that will create fights among lawmakers and interest groups…. It does seem certain, though, that the plan would not fully comply with pay-as-you-go budget rules, which require any new spending to be offset. “We’re not going to fully offset the cost of the plan in the early years,” said the aide.
  • Wall Street Journal Blogs Why Sen. Baucus Didn’t Wait for Obama On Health Reform For yesterday, at least, everybody was making nice. Kennedy called Baucus’s proposal a “major contribution to the debate on health reform.” Sen. Ron Wyden (D., Ore.), another big health thinker, praised Baucus too, saying he “couldn’t be happier than to see Chairman Baucus make health care such a priority for the next Congress.”
  • LA TIMES: Congress isn’t waiting for Obama“Much of what’s here dovetails with the president-elect’s own health plan,” Baucus said. “And where we differ, I have committed to work with him to find a consensus.”
  • Reuters: Healthcare reform gets backing in Congress“He has rightly sounded the urgent plea to get comprehensive reform done early in the next Congress and recognizes that the failure to act has dire and unacceptable consequences for working families, businesses and our national economy,” AFL-CIO President John Sweeney said in a statement.
  • PricewaterhouseCoopers Issues Report On What Obama Presidency Means for Health Industry“The financial crisis could accelerate health reform rather than be a roadblock to it,” said David Levy, MD, prin cipal of PricewaterhouseCoopers’ health industries advisory practice. “Right now, we have an historic opportunity to fix our broken health system as many forces converge around bringing better value for patients, and those forces could become unleashed by a new President who has pledged to make healthcare reform a priority of his administration.” A full copy of the report Healthcare Policy in an Obama Administration: Delivering on the Promise of Universal Coverage is available for download at www.PwC.com/obamahealthreport.
  • Reuters: Obama health plan to cost $75 billion: analysis President-elect Barack Obama’s plans to overhaul the U.S. healthcare system would cost the federal government $75 billion the first year but would provide health insurance for 95 percent of Americans, consulting firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers said on Wednesday.
  • Forbes Ahead of the Bell: Health care hearing House lawmakers on Thursday are slated to examine the impact the hemorrhaging economy has had on health care coverage for Americans. The Energy and Commerce Committee’s health subcommittee plans to look at the state of federal health care programs, including Medicaid, which has been hurt by state budget shortfalls.
  • Think Progress: The Baucus Health Plan & The Tax Incentive Tweak During the presidential campaign, progressives criticized Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) for dismantling the employer-based health insurance system by exposing employee tax benefits to income taxes. This morning, Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) proposed financing his comprehensive health reform plan by reforming the tax incentives for employer coverage.
  • Ezra Klein: THE BAUCUS WHITE PAPER: THE PLAN. I’m going to split my commentary on Max Baucus’s policy paper (pdf) into two posts: The plan and the politics. First, the plan.
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