Why I Oppose the Baucus Plan

The Plan

1. It costs too much. Even if it "doesn't impact the deficit" - a spurious claim if I ever heard one (it will certainly affect it indirectly) - it will cost $586 billion.

2. Now is not the appropriate time. Even if the bill were appropriate, an initiative of this scale should not be the government's primary focus when the economy has not yet recovered, when we're still engaged in conflict in Afghanistan, and we're still withdrawing from Iraq.

3. It's not bipartisan. Critics will say that the Republicans shattered any hopes of bipartisanship long ago, but I think the glory-seeking Obama administration somehow managed to deflect criticism through sheer force of personality for its failure all along to seek a truly bipartisan approach.

4. It imposes federal will where the states have traditionally held sway. The bill would "establish Federal rating, issue, renewability, and pre-existing condition rules for the individual market." As far as enforceability goes, the bill is quite explicit in that "conflicting state laws would ultimately be preempted" by federal regulations after passage.

5. It is unrealistic in that it doesn't permit insurers to make decisions based on actual risk factors (which would seemingly be necessary in world where there is scarcity and in a society that can claim any vestige of free market economy), but instead limits insurers to a few select, inadequate factors. According to the plan summary, "Issuers in the individual market could vary premiums based only on the following characteristics: tobacco use, age, and family composition."

The plan also forces companies to accept those with pre-existing health conditions and from rescinding health coverage - seemingly regardless of the illogicity of covering a given individual who would bankrupt the system or who knowingly takes risks. The plan creates a "high risk pool" of some unspecified nature to cover these individuals.

6. What is the Constitutional basis or bases that would permit Congress to enact this legislation?

7. The plan is disingenuous. The summary states, for example: "Individuals and groups who wish to renew coverage in an existing policy would be permitted to do so." But it then goes on to state that, in effect, no policy is truly grandfathered under the Baucus Plan: "Beginning January 1, 2013, Federal rating rules would be phased in for grandfathered policies in the small group market, over a period of up to five years, as determined by the state with approval from the Secretary. These plans could continue to exist after the transition period, but would be subject to the new rating rules."


While there are some concepts in the plan I find less problematic - and a few that are actually attractive - I think there are too many aspects of the plan that I find repugnant to support it.