This morning the Senate Finance Committee will resume their markup of Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) health care bill. Thanks to Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) the focus today will be on whether or not the Democrats on the committee can find enough votes to include a government-run insurance program. Just like Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) preferred public plan, Rockefeller’s plan would set price controls for health reimbursements at 5% above Medicare reimbursement rates. If the public plan was opened to all individuals and families, 103.4 million Americans would end up on the public plan, 88.1 million of whom would first lose their existing private coverage.
It is unclear at this point if centrist Democrats in Congress are really ready to force this many people out of their existing private care and into government-run health care. But even if the public option is not included, there are still plenty of regressive job killing taxes and invasions of privacy in the Baucus plan that makes it terrible public policy:
Taxes Families – Under the plan, everyone will have to have health insurance by 2013. The mandate will apply to all adults and their dependents under age 18. Those who failed to buy insurance would be forced to pay an annual tax between $750 and $3,800 per year. Those who fail to pay the tax could be jailed for up to one year. Worse, 7.7 million households would face a 35% excise tax on their health insurance. 94% of these households would be paying a higher tax rate on their health insurance than they would be paying on their income.
Taxes Businesses – Employers with more than 50 employees that don’t offer health coverage would have to pay a penalty for each employee who qualifies for new federal subsidizes under the bill. To stay in business employers will be forced to cut jobs and cut wages.
Taxes the Sick – The Baucus bill imposes higher taxes on manufacturers and importers of medical devices, health insurance companies, clinical laboratories, manufacturers and importers of drugs. In effect, the Baucus proposal would tax the sick to subsidize insurance for the healthy, and many of the taxes would be imposed on the same people “helped” by the subsidies.
Invades Your Privacy – The Baucus bill enforces both its individual and employer mandates by deputizing the Internal Revenue Service. To enforce these provisions, the bill would therefore require individuals, health insurers, employers, and government health agencies to report detailed health insurance information on all Americans to the IRS, adding significant administrative costs and reducing privacy protections. The IRS would also be required to report personal income data to state exchanges, insurance companies, and employers because premium credits and out-of-pocket limits would depend on income.
- More than a dozen states are moving to pass state constitutional amendments that would outlaw Obamacare’s individual mandate.
- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has secured a special deal protecting Nevada from the costs of expanding Medicaid under the Baucus bill.
- Arab and Western officials worry that al Qaeda is securing a stronghold in Yemen.
- Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said Monday that a delay in sending more troops to Afghanistan would be seen as a sign of weakness in the region.
- The Israeli, German, and French intelligence agencies all disagree with the U.S. 2007 National Intelligence Estimate which claimed Iran had halted their work on a nuclear bomb.