CBO greenlights Baucus bill

Advocates for national health care are excited today as the CBO has passed judgment on the Senate Finance Bill and found it a deficit cutter.

Actually, there really isn't anything to cheer about. The Baucus bill will not be anything close to the final bill that will make it out of conference committee. There is no public option. There is no employer mandate. So it is a foregone conclusion that very little in the Baucus bill will survive the legislative process.

And the bill will only save $81 billion over the next decade - about $8 billion a year. Considering that we're going to be running at least a $9 trillion deficit over that time, it is amusing that anyone would think that this is serious deficit reduction.

Liberal health care expert Ezra Klein at the Washington Post is not impressed:

Unless you're uninsured, or on the individual market, this bill is not expected to affect you. CBO estimates that 29 million Americans who would've otherwise been uninsured will be covered. That's a very big deal. Five million Americans who would otherwise have been left to the individual market will find a better option. And 3 million Americans who would've otherwise been in employer-based health insurance will be on the exchanges or, in some cases, on Medicaid. The insurance exchanges are projected to serve 23 million people come 2019, and 18 million of the members will be low-income and on subsidies.That leaves 245 million non-elderly Americans who will pretty much be in the exact place they would've been otherwise. As for the elderly, the CBO doesn't include them because they're on Medicare. They, too, will be where they otherwise would've been.

Remember this next time you hear some congressman talk about how this bill will revolutionize the American health-care system, either for better or for worse. This bill will change the insurance situation for 37 million legal residents, 29 million of whom would otherwise be uninsured. That's a big step in the right direction. But most people will never notice it. When I got an early glimpse of the Senate Finance Committee's bill back in June, I called it "comprehensive incrementalism," and I stick by that label. It makes a lot of things a bit better, but it's not root-and-branch reform.

The question is will this news entice some GOP senators to cross the line and vote for the bill? Apparently not, according to Charles Grassley. Senator Snow may still be wooed into voting for it, but any attempt by Democrats to take that and turn the bill into some kind of "bi-partisan" measure would be silly.

About the only thing this does is move the process along. The full Finance committee will approve the bill sometime next week and send it to the floor. How it fares there will tell us a lot about whether national health care reform will become a reality this year.

 






Advocates for national health care are excited today as the CBO has passed judgment on the Senate Finance Bill and found it a deficit cutter.

Actually, there really isn't anything to cheer about. The Baucus bill will not be anything close to the final bill that will make it out of conference committee. There is no public option. There is no employer mandate. So it is a foregone conclusion that very little in the Baucus bill will survive the legislative process.

And the bill will only save $81 billion over the next decade - about $8 billion a year. Considering that we're going to be running at least a $9 trillion deficit over that time, it is amusing that anyone would think that this is serious deficit reduction.

Liberal health care expert Ezra Klein at the Washington Post is not impressed:

Unless you're uninsured, or on the individual market, this bill is not expected to affect you. CBO estimates that 29 million Americans who would've otherwise been uninsured will be covered. That's a very big deal. Five million Americans who would otherwise have been left to the individual market will find a better option. And 3 million Americans who would've otherwise been in employer-based health insurance will be on the exchanges or, in some cases, on Medicaid. The insurance exchanges are projected to serve 23 million people come 2019, and 18 million of the members will be low-income and on subsidies.

That leaves 245 million non-elderly Americans who will pretty much be in the exact place they would've been otherwise. As for the elderly, the CBO doesn't include them because they're on Medicare. They, too, will be where they otherwise would've been.

Remember this next time you hear some congressman talk about how this bill will revolutionize the American health-care system, either for better or for worse. This bill will change the insurance situation for 37 million legal residents, 29 million of whom would otherwise be uninsured. That's a big step in the right direction. But most people will never notice it. When I got an early glimpse of the Senate Finance Committee's bill back in June, I called it "comprehensive incrementalism," and I stick by that label. It makes a lot of things a bit better, but it's not root-and-branch reform.

The question is will this news entice some GOP senators to cross the line and vote for the bill? Apparently not, according to Charles Grassley. Senator Snow may still be wooed into voting for it, but any attempt by Democrats to take that and turn the bill into some kind of "bi-partisan" measure would be silly.

About the only thing this does is move the process along. The full Finance committee will approve the bill sometime next week and send it to the floor. How it fares there will tell us a lot about whether national health care reform will become a reality this year.