- Lower the medicaid coverage rate from 150% to 100% of the fFderal poverty line, 133% for kids and pregnant women (once you have the baby, too bad for you)
- Subsidies stop at 300% of the poverty line (was 400%)
- No Public Option mentioned
- Insurance exchanges at the State level
- Must buy insurance unless it costs more than 15% of your income
- A fine if you don't buy insurance unless you're below the Federal poverty line
For the most part, as Walker discusses, this is about the same as or worse than the plan put forward by America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP). Yes, worse than the insurance industry's plan. Remarkable. Baucus is really earning his campaign donations these days.
Of course, this is only one proposal, and in principle others from the House and other Senate committees could be better, and the better ones could be enacted. Obama has said he wants a public option, and he may whip for it.
But, if something like this is what comes out as the eventual "reform" it is worse than nothing. Being forced to buy bad insurance, with huge co-pays without a public option to keep prices in check has as its primary value that it is a subsidy for the insurance companies and that it reduces catastrophic healthcare costs for hospitals, because due to forced purchases of bad plans, some of the folks who used to come in at the last minute, after having not gotten care, and then costing the hospital hundreds of thousands of dollars in emergency care, will be partially paid for. They'll still come in last minute and not have been properly cared for since the deductibles will mean they didn't get help, but 70% or 80% of their final death-rattle costs will be paid for.
The problem with this plan is that it won't control costs. Without a public option, the insurance companies will have no check on their prices, let alone pressure to actually reduce them. Because people will be forced to buy bad insurance, they'll hate the plan, and because "reform" has been passed, we'll have to wait another 10 or 12 years for another shot.
Obama desperately wants to pass health care "reform". The fear is that he may take the easy road, and pass any bill that is "better than nothing", and that progressives will once again accept the logic that it's better to get something rather than fight for an actual good bill.
But because Obama does desperately want to pass something, if progressives stand firm in the House or the Senate, and refuse as a bloc to pass anything without a good public option, nothing can pass unless Republicans cross the aisle, which is rather unlikely.
So the answer is to stop being taken for granted. Stand up for and demand a public option, and refuse to accept a bill which does less. Don't let Obama have a cheap victory; a cheap "medicare reform". If he wants it, make him whip for a real bill, a good bill, with a public option. He whipped for money to bail out banks in Eastern Europe. He whipped for TARP. He can whip for a good healthcare bill. And it won't even cost 700 billion.